What's the biggest pitfall in fundraising? Asking for money.
The first step in fundraising is to build a long-term relationship. It's not the dollar. It's slow capital, slow relationship building. And believe me, you want to take this time. Someone who gives you money has power. That money will not just jump-start your business—but also affect your life for positive or negative. People don't usually give money and back off. They give money and step up their engagement in a major way.
So when you make an ask, make sure you'd like this person in your life.
Start with listening to the person. Find out their values. Listen to how they handle relationships. Ask if you are comfortable with how they communicate and the language they use. Find out how they have worked on teams and how they have advised teams. Most importantly, listen to your gut. Will you enjoy working with this person, with full respect, trust and hopefully enjoyment? Will they also enjoy working with you?
In essence, it's taking the time to respect and honor the entire individual by listening to how they live. And then deciding if what you learn is in line with your vision and values as well.
Once you've done this, then you need to tailor your approach to which world you operate in.
If you're in the for-profit world:
Find out the deals they get really excited about. Is it technology? Clean energy? Consumer products? Build on what they like to invest in. Even if your idea is completely different, find some way to rope it back to an experience they can relate to.
If you're in the nonprofit world:
Find out the issues they care about: Is it the environment, youth, global warming? Or a combination of issues, such as peacebuilding and children? Again, if it's an innovative idea, find a personal experience that they relate to.
To fundraise with true sincerity, for both yourself and them, it’s about listening to the individual and gradually getting to know who they are. Building connections with investors needs to be a good fit for you and them. Slow Capital means long-term relationships. Then you can make your ask successfully.