For most of us, asking for money is intimidating. One of the biggest fundraising fears is being rejected and we tend to think more often about the reasons why our prospects may refuse to give for charity.
They probably have a mortgage to pay, they need to raise money for their kids’ college or they are currently dealing with some unexpected expenses.
The thing is, everyone will be doing fundraising at some point in their lives, and knowing how to ask for contributions can help you in many other life situations, like negotiating your salary payment or asking for a promotion.
Here is Fundraising for Nonprofits: The Definitive Guide
If you are new to fundraising or you need to gain a new perspective after several failures, the following lines should help you feel more confident.
Efficient fundraising is making people give joyfully
Many people who get involved with fundraising start with a wrong assumption: that prospects hate to be asked for money.
In fact, successful fundraisers are those who can make donors give happily.
This happens when you identify the right prospects and manage to connect people to a cause they already care about.
What remains to be done is matching the needs of the donor with the needs of the organization.
You will be surprised to know how many people feel honored to be asked for money if your cause is relevant to them.
Rueben Mayes leverages his passion for people and philanthropy to deliver the necessary resources in support of the Pullman Regional Hospital Mission.
Giving money for charity is an emotional transaction, and it’s not much different from purchasing a product or a service – people give money and their reward is making a difference in the community and seeing your nonprofit expressing gratitude in exchange.
Formulating a goal and making plans
Make sure you have a solid fundraising campaign plan before asking for contributions.
A good plan should include, in a nutshell, the following elements: a goal, objectives, your target audience, a fundraising strategy, the actual fundraising tactics, a calendar and a budget, and evaluation methods.
Not being part of a traditional, for profit business doesn’t mean you should neglect planning; on the contrary, your commitment needs to be even stronger, and your plans, carefully devised.
Any fundraising campaign has measurable outcomes and not skipping the evaluation phase will enable you to assess your performance.
Having a consistent message
One of the most important aspects of planning a fundraising campaign is having a clear, powerful message.
Being consistent throughout your messages is critical whenever you communicate something to your audiences, whether you are a marketer, an advertiser, a public relations practitioner, or a fundraiser.
Make sure you don’t issue contradictory or ambiguous messages and always highlight the impact your donors’ contributions will have on the cause you promote.
Campaigns with a local impact are the most effective, because people love to observe how the money they have donated are spent and prefer to see their contributions helping people who are part of the local community.
Showing how the money will be spent
Not being informed how their contributions were used is the leading cause why donors stop giving, after changes in their personal finances.
As stated previously, supporters don’t give money for nothing; aside from gratitude, they also expect you to follow up on them with information on how the funds have been allocated.
Being transparent about the way you use funds makes you more credible and increases your chances of attracting regular donors, who make regular gifts for long periods of time.
Attracting long-term donors is crucial if you want to ensure your nonprofit organization’s sustainable growth.
How to ask for money
Have you already devised your fundraising campaign? The success of your philanthropy efforts also depends on knowing how to ask for money. Everything may look great on paper, but when you get to the actual fundraising part, oftentimes something seems to go wrong. Keep in mind the following pieces of advice:
- Accept ambiguity
There are multiple reasons why people will give and many others why they won’t. The key is accepting you have limited control and just do it in spite of any objections you may think of and even if you are afraid of failure.
- Know your campaign objectives
Be ready to answer to a long list of questions without hesitating; this is why you’ll need to know precisely what you are raising money for, how the funds will be allocated, and why you are volunteering.
- Ask for a specific amount
Don’t be shy when it comes to asking for money and neither require your prospects to do too much work. Having a modest attitude and saying something like “Whatever amount you’d like to give is perfect” is not an efficient approach. On the one hand, the donor is not prompted to give when you are not convincing and don’t sound passionate about your cause. Furthermore, leaving the amount to their choice will throw them in a dilemma: “If I give $10, they will consider me a sparing person. $50? That’s too much…” Help donors get rid of the guesswork and they will be happy to offer an amount considered suitable by your organization.
- Dare to ask for the highest amount possible
Funds are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations and nobody would refuse more generous contributions, right? So why get $1000 from a donor when they have the possibility and the willingness to donate $5000? In order to be able to ask for the highest amount that someone would offer, you need to research your prospects, estimate their revenue levels, and observe their giving patterns. Once you take a closer look, you may be surprised to notice giving potential that was overlooked for a long time. Nevertheless, never reveal your prospects how you determined that number for them!
- Ask for advice
There is an old fundraising saying that often proves to be true: “Ask for money and you’ll get advice. Ask for advice, and you’ll get money.” This works so well because people love to be listened to, and once you satisfy their need for attention, they will feel happier and their urge to give will be stronger.
Mistakes you need to avoid when asking for money
Have you ever made one of the following mistakes? Don’t worry; it’s never too late to improve your performance:
- Surprising your potential donors
If your prospect is surprised by the fact you are asking for money, something’s definitely going wrong. State your purpose from the first call or contact and allow donors to prepare their questions and objections before you visit them.
- Not listening to donors
Silence is perceived as something undesirable in our culture, and there is always someone rushing to fill it and avoid the awkwardness. The secret is to let your prospects do it.
Using strategic silence may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but this technique will allow your prospects to reveal things they wouldn’t have talked about if you rushed to tell them about your new program.
Has the other person expressed their opinion on your cause? Reply with a “Hum, that’s very interesting…” and let them keep talking.
They may start expressing their concern about their kids taking up smoking or being affected by violence in schools.
As a result, you’ll be able to relate to a personal aspect which is relevant to your potential donors instead of reciting your usual fundraising speech.
- Forgetting to ask again
Don’t neglect those who have said yes once. They are highly likely to give again and you’ll need to allocate fewer resources and make less effort to get a new donation from someone who has made a contribution before.
Never miss an opportunity to thank donors. “Thank you” letters are some of the most common ways of expressing gratitude, but it’s also important to help people make their contribution known. Many donors like to be seen and recognized for making a gift, while others prefer to remain anonymous. Make sure you know every donor’s wish and fulfill it.
What Should I Do Now?
Would you like to be a successful fundraiser? Our advice is changing the definition of fundraising from “asking people for money” to “helping people offer money for the causes they care about”.
Doesn’t it feel much better to actually make a service to your prospects instead of fearing you might bother them?
Learn more about how Fundlio can help you raise funds by having your own mobile-friendly donation page.