Be careful, think about the effect of what you say. Your words should be constructive, bring people together, not pull them apart.

Miriam Makeba

Most of us have a Marie, the family friend who has gone on to be successful, and Ibrahim, the local boy living far away who wants to give back, and hopefully we will all have an Oscar – a person, company or NGO that has decided to give to projects like yours, but needs to be convinced that you are the organisation to choose. You’ve already thought about how to convince them to give to you – did you manage to step into their shoes?


  • Was giving the architect’s plan a good approach? Why or why not? Perhaps a visit to the project, meeting with current and past students and seeing what they are achieving thanks to the programme will be more powerful and convincing?
  • Did she only give you money at all because she didn’t want to say no and offend you?
  • Did you expect her to give you money just because she has money to give and she knows you? If she has a foundation with her husband they probably make decisions together – what questions would he have as someone who only knows you third-hand?
  • Would she have responded better if she had met with you and your sister? Would she have understood the project if you had explained it to her?
  • Rather than asking Marie immediately for money, spend time convincing her of the value of the project, so that she can see for herself that it aligns with her priorities, and then ask her for money.
  • Could you consider offering to name the building in her/her husband’s honour and other ways that they could be recognised? How much of the building costs would you need them to cover to recognise them in this way?


  • Ibrahim and his friend both live overseas, so they will want to use their time carefully when they return to see family and friends.
  • Did you respond promptly to his request for a visit? Why or why not?
  • Knowing he only has a little time, what did you plan to show him when he visited you? Who did you think he should meet to see the impact of your project?
  • If his wife visits with him, what do you think will convince her, as an American who doesn’t know much about your local area?
  • We know that people overseas want to see the long-term impact of your project, as well as evidence such as accounts and data. What would you show them to demonstrate your impact on young people’s lives?


  • Found you on the internet! It’s really important to have a web presence if you want to attract foreign donors otherwise they won’t know you exist!
  • He needs to know that you are a legitimate organisation – he probably asked for your accounts and wanted to know that you would give him and his aunt’s family updates at agreed times. 
  • He just wants to donate the money as this is his legal obligation. If you have good systems in place so that he can give it to you in confidence, and you can demonstrate it will be well spent, he will choose you!

Reflection Questions

  1. Were these the answers that you expected?
  2. If they were different, why do you think that was?
  3. Can you think of a past, current or prospective donor? Consider their interests and what information or approach might convince them to invest their money in your activities.

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