How To: Fundraise Successfully

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Michele Hodges, from last week’s interview, currently serves as President of the Belle Isle Conservancy, which oversees Belle Isle, Detroit’s largest public park. A substantial part of her role is making sure Belle Isle has the resources to stay beautiful for years to come, and fundraising to gather support is how she does this. So, for her how-to, we asked if she could share her top tips to receive funding for their public projects. 

1. Understand your community. “Don’t stay in your room, because nothing happens in those four walls.” The best first step you can take is to really get out there, “Be out in your community, understand your community.” The better your knowledge base is, the more understanding you’ll have on existing resources. 

2. Be authentic. “There’s nothing more important than character and integrity in my mind. Authenticity and a true belief in your mission and not in money.” As you approach foundations or individual donors, keep in mind that they are asked for their support every day of the week. As Michele wisely said, “People only support what they trust and what they believe in.” 

3. Create something somebody will want to be a part of. “I think you need to believe in your mission, and people will want to be a part of that. It’ll happen naturally, [when] you’re not the salesman. If you have to ask in that way, I don’t know if that’s as successful.” If your idea resonates, you’re already on your way to bringing others along. 

 4. Know exactly what you’re asking for. “People support where they know their money will be wisely spent.” You have to have “Ingenuity so they know by the time you’ve come to them, you’ve leveraged every other bucket. When I go to [a donor], I can say to her, ‘We’re not taking the easy way out just coming to you and [asking for] your money. We know the true gap. And everybody’s at the table with a stake and some skin in the game.’ Ingenuity will allow you to show them that they’re going to be part of something long term and sustainable.”

5. Collaborate as much as possible. “I think the donor community wants to see collaboration more often.” If you can bring together several organizations to work together to assist in your fundraising goals, you should! That way, “If a dollar is spent once it can stretch further.” 

Thank you so much for your tips, Michele! Readers, wasn’t that helpful? When you’re done sharpening your own fundraising skills, come back next week for an interview with a very talented singer-songwriter.

How To: Publish A Cookbook

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Priya Krishna from last week’s interview is a talented food writer with two published cookbooks under her belt. Her first, Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks, is a book all about taking everyday dining hall food and making it delicious. Her second, Indian-ish, is a collection of her mother’s recipes that combine influences of traditional Indian and American ingredients, as well as inspiration from her travels around the world. So who better to ask than Priya how to publish a cookbook? Below are her helpful tips:

1. Write a great proposal. A proposal is what you or your agent sends to different publishing houses to sell your book before it’s written. It should include a summary of your upcoming cookbook, explain why you’re the person to write it, and share your vision. Including a few recipes is always a good idea! 

2. Shop it around to agents you love. An agent can be your most important asset in getting a cookbook published. Priya recommends “opening the back of cookbooks that you like –– people usually acknowledge their agent.” The importance of an agent is not only their connections to getting your book published, but also that a good agent “will be your advocate, and tell you not what you aren’t or what you lack, but what you bring to the table.”

There you have it –– Priya’s tips on how to publish a cookbook! Thank you so much, Priya! Readers, after you start working on your own proposal, come back next week to learn about a woman who oversees Detroit’s largest public park. 

How To: Make A Budget (& Stick To It!)

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Paco de Leon from last week’s interview has been working in finance for over 10 years. She’s also the co-host of the Refinery 29 Money Diaries podcast, in which she doles out helpful advice every week. So if there’s anyone we should be asking how to stick to a budget, it’s her! This week, she shares her 7 steps on how to make a budget –– and how to stay with it. 

1. Decide you’re serious. Paco says the first step is to decide that your personal finance is important to you. Say to yourself “Okay, I’m going to change”. As they say, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.

2. Set aside time. Choose a day and time to sit down and check in on your finances every week. “Setting aside weekly finance-time is hugely important and can be transformative for people. Be serious about it, mark yourself as busy, and don’t allow yourself to compromise on your finance time.”

3. Look to the past to plan the future. “Look at historical data to project what your budget is going to be.” Paco recommends looking over the last 30 days to get an idea of how you’ve been spending money.

4. Use a tool. Does printing out old credit card statements make you feel anxious? Not to fear! Paco suggests using “An application called Tiller HQ. It’s a budgeting app that scrapes your banking data into Google Sheets and makes it easy to sort into categories and run reports.” 

4. Group your spending habits into categories. Next, group your previous purchases into three categories. “The first is Bills and Life, the second is Fun and BS, and the third is Future Goals.” Go through and see how much you spend in each category, and then decide how much you want to spend on each category moving forward. “Give yourself a [maximum] number and stick to it.”

5. Open separate bank accounts. Paco recommends opening up a checking account for each category to truly keep them separate. “Have a checking account for your Bills and Life, and all of your bills should be paid with that account.” Do the same for Fun and BS. If you’re going to do something fun, “Leave the Bills and Life debit card at home and [then] it’s not even an option to spend money out of that account.” Your Future and Goals should go into your various savings accounts (emergency fund, retirement fund, vacation fund, etc.).

6. Automate your savings, if possible. “If you can automate your savings, do that. But, if you’re [starting out] and you need to manually do these transfers, at least you have weekly finance time where you can sit down and do that.” Make it a goal to work towards automated savings and keep checking in until you get there.

7. Keep it up, and watch what happens. “If you do this method, I promise you your life will change in a way that you didn’t know it could. Once you do all that upfront investment of work, it’s just following the rules that you set for yourself.” Willpower is finite, but actual planning can keep you in check for years to come.

Great advice, Paco! Thank you so much! Readers, after you’re done downloading Tiller HQ and marking weekly finance time in your calendar, come back next week for an interview with one of our favorite Bon Appetit Magazine YouTube stars. (Photo provided by Paco de Leon)