How do leaders fund their dreams? The truth is dollars are required to turn vision into reality. This is not just a question for leaders in the not-for-profit sector. Leaders in the marketplace need to raise financial support for the programs and initiative we wish to fund as well. Today’s Challenge: How do I raise money for my cause or project?

I’m no expert on raising money. However, I’ve helped our organization allocate hundreds of millions of dollars over the years and personally contributed to scores of non-profit organizations over the last few decades. Here are some of my observations regarding how leaders get financial support for their ideas.

Money follows big ideas – Be prepared to talk about the big idea. What is the vision? Why does it matter? I’ve seen this principle play out time and time again in the marketplace and in ministry. Victor Hugo said, “Dream no small dreams. They have no power to stir men’s souls.” They also struggle to find funding.

Passion is contagious – I’ve seen leaders cast such a compelling vision for their project/cause, people wanted to give them money on the spot. If you’re not burning white hot for the idea you’re promoting, don’t expect much success in convincing others to fund your dream.

Relationships matter – Doug Carter, author of Raising More Than Money, says, “Fund raising is really friend raising.” Are you being strategic as you build relationships with people who can help you fund your vision? Who would you like to build relationships with? Who do you know who can make an introduction for you?

Patience is essential – Raising money is more a process than an event. Development professionals I know talk about cultivating relationships for years before some people will make a significant financial gift. The same is true in business. I’m currently working to fund a project that’s been in the works for over 20 years… I think we’ll make it in 2013!

Success begets success – Generate results, even if on a small scale. Use prototypes, pilots and limited tests as needed to create a proof of concept. You can fund raw, unproven ideas, but tangible results, even if small, will make continued funding much easier.

Communication is currency – When looking for financial resources, one of your greatest assets is your story. Hopefully, it’s a story that is compelling. Proactively tell your story, cast your vision and share your successes. This can build confidence in you and your idea.

Courage is required – Don’t be shy – make the ask. Be specific. Always be ready to tell people what you need to continue the journey. Have both specific projects in mind as well as specific dollar needs. In a non-profit setting, if you ask for more than someone can give, they will be flattered. In the business world as well, if you don’t ask, you’re not going to get funding. Be bold!

Leaders must learn to fund their dreams. If you can’t fund the agenda, you can’t write the agenda. I hope some of these ideas will help you make your vision a reality. [GLS_Shield]

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.