Now, we will begin with an overview of what you will need to write an effective major gift proposal. At the end of this lesson, you will be able to determine components of a major gift proposal, incorporate your organizational case for support into your proposal planning, compare and contrast elements of persuasive writing and writing for fundraising, and recall three questions to enhance your writing of an effective proposal. Let's get started with part one. In our previous sessions, we have discussed how to identify potential donors, understanding their mindset and motivations, getting that all critical first appointment, and then the process of cultivation and relationship management as we move toward that ultimate objective, making the ask. One more task stands between us and the ask, that being the writing of an effective proposal. That is the primary learning objective for this module, how to write an effective proposal for major or principal gift development. The specific topics we will outline include: the major components of a major gift proposal, how to incorporate your organizational case for support, and best practices for donor-centric writing and making your mission personal. A single proposal read by just a few people may well bring more money than an entire year's worth of annual giving pieces mailed out to thousands of alumni. You have good reasons for taking a great care when you write a proposal. You will probably have no choice. Generally, proposal drafts get shot at by more people on your campus or within your organization than any other kind of advancement writing. All of the faculty, your staff members involved in the project want to review it, and they may not agree among themselves on needs, purposes, and methods. Then the dean or your program director makes his or her suggestions, and finally, the president or CEO may even have a few ideas to add. After all that, you go through it another time correcting grammatical, rhetorical or factual inconsistencies, and sail it past the group once again. If you're lucky, only once again. A proposal usually takes more hours than anybody expected, but it can be worth all of the trouble. Your literary style in most proposals will be matter-of-fact, simple, and direct. The exception may be when you are writing to a devoted graduate about a project close to his or her heart, then a more personal style, perhaps even a little nostalgia is permissible. However, foundation boards or corporate gift committees want you to come right to the point. Your proposals for them must be tightly organized and loaded with demonstrable facts. You may be familiar with the term, persuasive writing. It is a style or approach of writing common to advertising, and its end purpose is to convince the reader to purchase consumer products. Persuasive writing, as with so many aspects of professional fundraising, is both an art and a science. A good writer must pay attention to elements of tone, structure, their audience, and grammar to convey their message successfully. In writing for fundraising, we aspire to be compelling, emotional storytellers. The 'what' of our proposal. We do this so that all communications are donor-focused. The 'why' and quality writing is the skill set that allows us to convey our ideas in a lasting way or the 'how'. Here are a few things that persuasive copy should have in common with writing for fundraising purposes. First, persuasive copy gets read and in doing so persuades the reader to perform an action, perhaps to leave a bequest in their will or to adopt a certain point of view. Recognize that they are the hero of the story affecting a philanthropic change in the world around them. Secondly, persuasive copy is specific. The more specific you are, the more credible your argument or your story becomes. Finally, persuasive copy utilizes the word 'you'. That's the most powerful word in the English language. Remember, your proposal is all about the donor, not your organization. A formalized major gift proposal has to hit certain beats. These written major gift proposals are the conclusion of all of your cultivation efforts. They are informed by everything you have learned about the prospect in all of your preceding meetings. If you've researched major gift asks, you've likely seen that speaking with the prospect in person dramatically increases your chances of securing the donation. It is still beneficial to be familiar with the writing strategies, however. During a presentation, the written proposal can help guide your ask as you walk through it with the prospect, and it can be a good take-home document for the prospect-turned- donor. Large gifts from individuals do sometimes result from personal conversations alone without the aid of a formal written presentation, but usually, only when a donor is very closely identified and involved with your organization. Even then a follow-up presentation in writing often helps firm up the appeal. The written presentation may be anything from a letter to a highly individualized and occasionally quite extensive published document. Even in those cases, however, a statement of no more than 8-10 pages in length at maximum is all that is necessary. Your written proposal should cover at least these four items. First, it should include a statement of the opportunity or need related if possible to the prospects own priorities or needs. Secondly, it should include the proposed action for meeting the need or fulfilling the opportunity being presented. Third, it should include all financial data, including information about costs, other funds available, and the amount being requested from your donor. And, finally, a summary statement of the benefits the donor will derive from the gift should they elect to make the contribution. Building a proposal that will attract major philanthropy must tell both a story and lay out in detail the explicit opportunity to invest. The right pitch will function as a resource to approach a wide variety of potential donors. It is an argument to secure capital investment needed to both launch and/or sustain this particular intellectual enterprise. It is important to define all gift opportunities at many different levels—100,000, 1 million or $5 million, building powerful and appropriately priced gift opportunities. Answering these questions will give us an invaluable and necessary framework for engaging our donors. When we are working and discussing with our colleagues who administer or deliver the impact programming for the organization for which we are seeking funding, there are three key questions that we should use to frame all of our discussions when we are trying to build the compelling philanthropic agenda for our donors. First, what would make us better? Secondly, what would differentiate us from our competition? Remember, it's a very competitive field out there. Finally, what might transform us or take us to a whole new level of accomplishment? Taking this line of questioning to a more detailed level, a proposal writer will want to know the following from their colleagues. What problem are we trying to solve? How does that define what precisely we are proposing to do? And third, what's our credibility as an institution, our brand, and it's explicit and implicit promise? Meaning, why is this something we are uniquely positioned to do? Other details that your proposal writer will need to have prior to starting their writing would be, who will lead this effort? Is there a leadership team? Do we have the right talent in place? Secondly, what impact is this initiative likely to have for the institution or for the wider world? In other words, how might we define its return on investment? Intellectual, and educational, financial, how does it create value? How does this align with our institution's mission? Finally, do we have a strategy to execute this plan? To spend the donor's money wisely, what are the broad parameters of that spending? What is our timeline and time scale? Can we phase this particular project we're discussing? What are the investments we need? And how much of this project depends on a philanthropic investment? As a proposal writer, you will need to know, is there early stage work we are building upon with this particular project? Is there momentum that already exists? What other resources might we be leveraging? And have there been other investors or donors to date? You'll need to know what will this actually cost. What will it cost for equipment, space, people? What are our infrastructure and other soft costs associated with this project? And what are we asking our donors to do and at what give levels? Finally, how are we likely to publicly recognize our investors or donors? How are we proposing to stay accountable to them for the return on investment and keep them involved as we move forward? Still two more questions that a proposal writer must pose when working with their internal colleagues. Has everyone who needs to be involved in your organization already been made aware of this proposal? Who needs to be part of the review process, and who needs to sign off on the basic strategy or approach that we're taking? If you're talking about a capital project, do you have any schematics or plans that would be useful to show to your donor? Do your graphic show not only the building or the facility, but how it is situated among the adjacent buildings or grounds and on a larger campus?