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Ask Andrea

Do you have a question to ask me? Email me, Andrea Kihlstedt, at for your chance to be featured in the column!

Now, let’s get to this month's important question from Beth:

Dear Andrea,

I am the founder/president of organization that provides music classes for inner city youth. We’ve operated without major fundraising for 3 years, and I work 2 jobs to keep going, so development is impeded. I am hoping to find a seasoned development person to help us write grants, at least for 3 months. Or, perhaps introduce us to philanthropists.

With thanks.


Dear Beth,

I'm impressed! Clearly, you are a person of huge energy and initiative. You have big dreams and have acted on them and you've accomplished a gret deal. But you’re stumped about how to raise enough money to keep your organization going.

Your challenge is not uncommon for someone who has founded an organization. Founders often get an organization up and running. Their energy and charisma and enthusiasm drive the program. But eventually, they wear down and fundraising feels like a huge challenge.

Fundraising isn't About Money: It's About Impact

The solution to your fundraising challenge is not as simple getting someone to write grants or finding philanthropist. Those are just stopgap measures.

You need a solid fundraising plan that’ll help you grow your program and increase your impact over the long haul.

I encourage you to do four things.

1. Make a Plan

Create a simple and clear organizational budget and simple fundraising plan that covers three years of operation. That'll help you and your donors know what's needed.

2. Develop a Qualified Prospect List

Make a list of 20 people who have a reason to care about your mission and have the ability to give. They should have A-the Ability to give, B-a Belief in your mission, and C-a contact in your organization.

They’re probably already involved in other musical organizations. Start networking with organizations that have related missions. Ask your board to help you create the list.

3. Quantify your IMPACT

Fundraising is NOT about MONEY. It’s all about IMPACT. Really, people don’t give money because you need money. They give money when they are convinced that their money will make a difference in people’s lives. So before you start meeting with your prospects, you have to quantify and simplify the real impact that their gifts will make.

4. Meet with Prospects and Ask Them to Help Make an Impact

Talk to them about your organization and invite them to join you in making a difference. There’s nothing as effective as asking, Beth. And, as the Founder/Director, that’s where you should be spending your limited time.

For a more detailed, step-by-step process, take a look at this seven part series that lays out a simple but effective process for raising money.

What fundraising questions do you have?

Send your questions to Andrea at

Andrea Kihlstedt, author and co-founder, AskingMatters.comAndrea Kihlstedt loves to help people solve their fundraising problems. She has provided advice and friendly encouragement to lots of people over her 30+ years in the fundraising business. She’s also written four books on fundraising. Andrea lives in New York City with her husband and her old cat, Hairy Potter. You can find her at Capital Campaign Magic.

Topics: Fundraising