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Give Them Goosebumps – Articulating Your Vision to Inspire

Teisha Archer,
12 August 2019

So, your organisation needs more money. Whose doesn't! Knocking on a prospective donor’s door to tell them to give because you do good things will rarely result in a donation that will be world-changing for your organisation.

You need to give them goosebumps.

You should aim for them to not just WANT to be involved but feel the NEED to be involved in the change you will make.

To do this you need to be able to articulate your vision clearly and succinctly but also in a way that inspires. Very quickly you should be able to outline why it is important to do what you do, what will happen if you do or don't take action and why the world will be a better place if you do what you do best.

You need to identify what it is that makes you special, what it is that you want to be famous for. So how do you do this?

You need a vision, you need a BIG goal, and you need the proof that you are the right people to do the job. Working with a group of your Executive, Board and staff can help to identify the story you want to tell, and if fact the story you do not want to tell!


What does the world look like if you achieve your goal?

Storytelling is the backbone of great fundraising. We are no longer seeking funds for a fellowship, but instead we are restoring sight to the blind. We are not asking for travel scholarships, but instead are remembering forgotten languages.

We are telling stories of world-changing projects. Ones that inspire and connect. Ones that are so compelling that our prospective donors cannot say no. To have significant fundraising success consider how your work, program or project is world-changing. Why is it so

important to do this work now, and what are you doing that shows you are the right people to undertake this work?

Let’s look at a hypothetical example.

Your local sporting club needs funds for capital works. It needs funds because it their changerooms are insufficient. For a local club, it is big, and expensive and it is necessary. But it is not exciting. This is the situation of thousands of local sporting clubs in Australia.

Now, we could get into the specifics of the changeroom fittings and building structures required. We could tell you about the engineering or design. But either way, you would be most likely be confused or bored by the jargon and technicalities (my eyes are glazing over just typing this!).

Instead, I will tell you this:

Kids today don’t run as fast or as far as their parents did at the same age. In fact, on average they run one minute slower per kilometre.

With this comes an obesity and mental health crisis. A senior scientist once told me that this generation of children may be the first to die at a younger age than their parents will. All of our children are at risk. But in particular, today we are concerned about our girls.

Every year in Australia, fewer than half as many girls participate in sport as boys. Women are under-represented at all levels of society. It starts here in the playground and on the sporting fields, and it is time to take the necessary steps to lead change.

It is time to build a system that not only makes sport accessible to girls but encourages and welcomes them. And it starts in the changerooms. A lack of female specific changerooms at local sporting facilities is a clear and confirmed barrier to participation. Having the right facilities is critical to changing the trajectory of our girls health and social inclusion.

You can be the difference to our girls. You can help us to build the facilities that encourage participation for better physical and mental health. Your support shows that you welcome them to play at your level.


While typing the above example, I was thinking about my childhood spent awkwardly getting changed in the car before martial arts. I was also thinking about my niece who at 10 joined her local girls football team, and I wonder whether she is doing the same. I am connecting to this cause. I want to see it succeed because it resonates with me. Sure, it is not sexy, but I can see myself in their situation. Perhaps you have had similar experiences...

Many of us support the causes where we can easily see how this cause affects us (or our families, friends and community). Considering this, why are you are involved in the

organisation you are fundraising for? Why is it personally important to you that this work is undertaken?

Setting an ambitious, or even audacious, goal and making it personal can connect your audience to your cause. Tell your story in a way that outlines the urgency and the risk of inaction. Demonstrate how your cause will make my life, or my family and friends’ lives, better and why it is so important to act now.


Once you have made it personal, highlighted the urgency and outlined your vision, you need proof. Proof that you can do it.

Any fundraising campaign vision must be compelling, be measurable, accountable, realistic, and there must be trust that you are the right organisation to make it happen.

Your proof may include work that you are doing right now, or have done in the past, that shows you are successful, trustworthy and respected. You may have a pilot program you can refer to, have strategic partners that will support you in areas outside of your expertise, or have a history of making the impossible happen. Use it to your advantage.

These are the questions that would be asked by any donor considering a large gift to any organisation.

- What will you achieve? 
- When will you achieve it by?
- Why is it important?
- Why are you the right people to do it?
- How will you do it?

Every program needs to be able to articulate what success looks like, how the program will improve life, who and how many lives will be impacted, how many dollars it needs and how much it will attract. And most importantly how it contributes to the vision and goal of your organisation. Answer these questions before they are asked, and you will be well placed. Be proactive in answering these questions and allaying the prospective donors’ fears – even the ones they don’t realise they have…


The true secret to successful fundraising is bravery. It takes courage to sit in front of someone and ask them for a major gift. Very few have the guts to take it on as a career! But here you are. You are braver than most. Harness that and use it.

Stand behind your cause with conviction, whether you need funds for changerooms, to save an endangered species or cure a vicious disease. Your confidence in the cause and your solution to the challenge will inspire. Be ambitious and back it!

A fundraising campaign is not business as usual. You need an inspiring vision, an audacious goal and proof. Then you need each of these fundamentals embedded into the organisation at all levels and in all areas – marketing and communications, organisational strategic planning, fundraising and HR .

A fundraising campaign is something extraordinary. It is urgent, it is vital, it is world-changing. Your vision must leave a prospective donor inspired.

Articulating your vision clearly and passionately is so important to inspiring others to NEED to be involved in your cause. Personal connection and a visionary approach are integral. Take a look at your fundraising messaging today and consider if you are inspiring your donors.

And don’t forget to ask yourself, are you giving them goosebumps?


The Xfactor Collective is a community of pre-vetted specialist consultants who help social change makers achieve their social mission. We have a diverse range of specialists across 300+ areas of specialisation, and this article was written by our Specialist Consultant Teisha Archer. To find out more about working with Teisha, or how the Collective can help you, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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