How do I get funded?
Showcasing your profile in the best light will enhance your opportunity of receiving funding. Imagine your profile as a window into your teaching career, needs, and story. Each instance where you can highlight your needs and goal should be a bit different, and you will need to tailor your profile to engage your specific audience.
For example, your friends and family will view your profile differently than a business owner will, so tailor it to be specific while also engaging a broader audience. Keep in mind, the first few donations will usually take the longest to receive, but as you gain momentum donors are more likely to give.
The following will include a few strategies you can use to enhance your profile, engage your audience, and present your needs with clarity:
Be clear and confident
The first thing to remember is that people respond to confidence.
Not everyone you meet is going to fund your needs, but you will be much more likely to catch their attention if you clearly communicate exactly what you are asking for, how you will use the funds, and how it will impact you as a teacher while enhancing your students education.
Confident, not demanding
Your attitude should be confident, but not pushy or demanding. Know your end goal and determine a range of avenues to reach it. This will make it easier for the funder to make a comfortable and informed decision about providing funding. Make sure to highlight key reasons for your funding needs, such as field trips, projects, snacks for students who can’t afford it, and other needs because any sort of ambiguity is going to cause a distraction. Be honest when sharing your teaching career, mention downfalls, memorable moments, your reasons for teaching.
Practice makes perfect, so ask friends and family to view your profile. Get feedback from them after each profile update so you can refine your approach. Once you’ve written your story, added photos (and videos), added schools (present and past) you can begin sending out mass emails or reaching out to people you don’t know to help fund your goal.
Tell your story in detail
For people to want to fund your goal, they need to identify with you in some way. Maybe they feel sympathy for you, or maybe they are excited to see where your campaign is going to go. Your teaching backstory feels like second nature to you, but you will need to keep in mind that not everyone knows your background, needs or specific circumstances.
Give your potential donors a taste of who you are and what you are about. How you want to enhance your students lives and how funding can enhance your own. When sharing your profile on social media gauge your audiences reaction and use this to steer your tone. Although you want your story to be detailed, you don’t want to go overboard. Be friendly, sincere, honest and clear.
Practice makes perfect
This may take some time to perfect, so practice with some family and friends to really nail it down. There are some key factors that need to go into any request for a donation. The first is a brief overview of who you are and the second is why you are needing funding. From there, explain why you became a teacher, why education is important, and what your end goals are. If you can address these key items, you are well on your way to a stellar fundraising outcome.
Use a sense of urgency
In order for others to want to donate to your Classful profile, they need to realize that there is an urgent financial need. While it’s important to be friendly and authentic, if you are too casual, donors might not feel that your goal is important.
Be clear, not negative
An effective way to convey this is by telling your potential donors what will happen if they don’t contribute. This doesn’t need to be too negative, but it should make them feel like their contribution is necessary. For example, say you are using your profile to help fund your science class. You could tell your potential donors, ‘In order for us to have more than one science project per semester, we need your support.’ This strikes the right tone – urgent without being too dire.
Remember that each potential donor is unique
If you approach all potential donors the same way, you are going to run into challenges quickly. Everyone has their own values, their own goals in life, and their own financial situation. When sharing your story, needs, and goal you need to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what is going to best convince them to donate.
Some people are going to respond best to a light, friendly approach, while others will really buy into the drama of a good story. You should also keep your own relationship with them in mind – there are some situations where you may need to be more formal than others.
You should also think about why someone might not want to donate and address those reservations. Putting their mind at ease before they have the chance to ask questions will show them that you are taking your teaching needs seriously and have thought everything through. When potential donors feel like you are appealing to them personally, they will feel special and want to make that kind of connection with you.
Once you have developed a connection with a donor or potential donor, keep the relationship going by updating them on the progress of your life, classroom, students lives and education, and send them thank you messages at key points throughout the school year, such as when you meet an important goal. People are very busy, so sometimes a quick reminder is what they need to remember to donate.
Potential funders want to see authenticity and individuality when contributing to you. If you seem just like you are just in it for the funds, they will pass you over. It can be tempting to look at other people who have run successful profiles and want to ask for funds with force.
You are unique
Being yourself is going to capture funders more than you trying to recreate a trend. Think about what is unique and special about you and your story and teaching needs, and aim to play that up during each update or addition to your story and photos.
You should also resist the temptation to be too formal or professional. While you do need to be articulate, it can feel awkward if your pitch is too stifled. Instead, think of what you would like to see if you were in a potential donor’s position. This can be challenging at first. Keep in mind, people love to give and support causes they believe in.
Follow up when necessary
Not everyone is going to give funding at first, and that’s okay. Be gracious and always make an effort to develop a relationship with everyone who follows you and reaches out. Not only is this good for the overall reputation of your profile and teaching career, but it might lead them to change their mind later on.
Provide updates to previous donors and all followers on how things are going, and gently remind them what a difference their donation could make. You can also continue to convey a sense of urgency by putting a deadline on specific needs or outcomes. There are some instances where this is going to happen naturally, but there are other times where you might have to set a deadline for yourself. If potential donors feel like they are going to have to make a decision quickly, they will probably feel more inclined to donate.
Articulating your story and teaching needs may be difficult at first, but with some practice, you will be drawing in plenty of contributions. When in doubt, get opinions from friends and family on your approach. Sometimes you need an outside eye to help you nail a great pitch.