Charities seeking funds from a prospect who is an entrepreneur should take a fresh approach, reveals Christine Sherry. 

Entrepreneurs who are beginning to engage in philanthropy often bring different ideas and approaches to more traditional donors. Here are eight key things to keep in mind when approaching entrepreneurial donors for support:

1. Many entrepreneurs want to know what is unique about your organisation.  Those who created companies over a short period of time will be interested in what is emerging and or if there is something potentially ‘disruptive’ about your organisation – an idea or strategy that changes an industry or way of doing business in a radical way. They are often more likely to fund groups that are ready to scale or whose work can affect large populations of beneficiaries. Often this means they are innately drawn to funding start-ups or ideas that have the capacity to scale. 

2. Most are digitally savvy, and are attracted by what they perceive to be new ideas. What kind of social media presence do you have? Your website and other social media connections may be particularly important.

3. Often entrepreneurs want to understand how your organisation uses technology to advance your mission – particularly those coming from technology backgrounds.

4. Many are inclined to fund projects or programs where they can see demonstrable outcomes in a short period of time. Even if the impact you are having is longer term, how do you talk about the impact of your work?  How do you measure results?  It’s important to think not just about your activities or outputs but the outcomes from those activities.

5. They are frequently drawn to nontraditional funding models such as impact investing or hybrid models which have characteristics of both for-profits and not-for-profits. Expect that some will ask about the sustainability of your programs over time.

6. Think about the language you use to describe your work. Many entrepreneurs are unfamiliar with traditional fundraising language and want to understand in quick and simple terms what you do, what is unique about your model and what kinds of outcomes you can show for your work.

7. Often it is helpful to approach these donors through giving circles where they can partner with peers. Peer influence is important. Do you have board members who can reach out to them and describe your work in language they are most comfortable with?

8. They may want to contribute their business expertise to a cause. Consider how they might bring their business savvy and connections to your work or contribute their skills and time, as well as money. 

Christine Sherry founded and leads American philanthropy consultancy Sherry Consulting. She is sharing her expertise at Philanthropy Australia’s 2014 National Conference in Melbourne on September 2 and 3. 

Discover more opportunities to learn from thought-leaders and specialists in philanthropy at Philanthropy Australia’s website: www.philanthropy.org.au.

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