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How to Ask For a Donation
Fundraising seems straightforward — you find like-minded people that are passionate about your cause, ask them for money, and, because they care so much, they give it to you. Easy peasy.
But of course, the truth is very different. Yes, your potential supporters are out there, and yes, there’s a good chance they’ll donate if your timing and request are right, but you have to find the prospects, and more challenging — you have to ask them for money.
And that can be so much harder than you might expect. It’s easy to feel like you’re being pushy or annoying when approaching cold contacts for donations. It’s also not always clear the best way to make the request. If you come on too strong, you can scare off your prospect, but if you water down your message too much, it loses its emotional appeal. The process of asking for money is straightforward, but the doing of it is anything but.
SEE ALSO: 8 Donation Thank You Letter Ideas
THE BASICS OF HOW TO ASK FOR A DONATION
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to a successful fundraising effort.
You have to give your prospects a compelling reason to donate. Those most devoted to your cause might donate with a simple request, but most others need to be convinced. Ensure that your prospects don’t procrastinate giving by making them understand how important it is that they move now. Let them know exactly what they can accomplish with their gift as well as the dire ramifications if they delay.
Be Honest and Inspirational
The quickest way to lose the faith of your donors is to misrepresent your goals. Remember, you’re asking them to give you money to accomplish something they may never see actualized. You should be upfront and honest with every message to put them at ease. It’s the best way to inspire action. When prospects see you as trustworthy, they’re significantly more likely to give.
Make Specific Requests
An open-ended donation request can be discomforting for some people. They might not be sure what constitutes a reasonable gift, and this uncertainty can prevent action.
Instead, offer guidance, providing specific donation tiers that people can slot into. This takes the guesswork out and allows donors with both modest and extravagant means to donate comfortably.
The most effective donation requests are face-to-face exchanges. However, this option is rarely available. You can make up the difference by personalizing your requests as much as possible. Write multiple donation messages and alternate which one you use with each prospect, tailoring it to the sort of person they are.
Prepare Yourself For Rejection
When asking for money, one thing is certain — far more people will say “no” than “yes.” If you don’t prepare yourself for rejection, you may find yourself crestfallen and unable to push forward effectively. Remember, they aren’t rejecting you, your organization, or even your cause.
There are any number of reasons why a prospect might say no, and not all of them are permanent. Just because someone says “no” the first time doesn’t mean they won’t agree at some point in the future when their circumstances have changed. Don’t give up; keep asking.
Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas in 2021
WAYS TO ASK FOR A DONATION
There are several methods available to the aspiring fundraiser, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. A multichannel approach is the most effective. It allows you to reach prospects where they are and follow them through the various touchpoints they visit.
Handwritten Direct Mail
Standard printed direct mailers are one option, but we recommend handwritten direct mail instead for fundraising. Its highly personal nature uniquely suits it for making an emotional connection with potential donors. Compared to a printed mailer, which feels cold and dispassionate, a handwritten mailer feels as if it was written specifically with the recipient in mind. Your donation request feels as if it came right from your desk to their mailbox.
Simply Noted is the best way to send handwritten direct mail. We’ve automated the process. Using our powerful integrations, you can connect your marketing software to our servers, making it fast and easy to send handwritten cards the same way you might send an email. Our advanced handwriting machines use real ballpoint pens and AI-driven smart fonts to create handwritten cards indistinguishable from the real thing.
Handwritten direct mail enjoys a 99% open rate and is very well-received by prospects. It’s appropriate for both small and large donation requests. If you only had one option available to you, handwritten direct mail is how to ask for a donation.
Email campaigns can be very cost-effective, but don’t enjoy the massive open and response rates you find with handwritten direct mail. As a result, email can be sent more often and used to support less frequent, though more effective, mailed campaigns.
Compared to direct mail, emails feel cheap, which makes them poor candidates for large donation requests. You also shouldn’t use them for first-time outreach to well-heeled donors. Email campaigns shine as a means to keep people engaged in between more robust handwritten direct mail campaigns.
Social media allows you to reach out to prospects and engage them in direct conversation. It’s highly effective for finding prospects, as you can create laser-targeted campaigns looking for exacting demographics. These platforms are also useful for generating dialogue among groups and getting your message spread wide.
Platforms like GoFundMe and Mightycause are useful for creating self-contained fundraising efforts. The latter is designed for individuals that need to raise money and is less useful to nonprofit organizations. These groups are better served by Mightycause.
Crowdfunding platforms are valuable because they allow you to make your case for donation, promote your fundraiser, and accept donations all in one place. However, organizations shouldn’t rely on these platforms entirely. Some people hold a dim view of this fundraising style.
Cold calls are an old fundraising standby. They’re also the most challenging today simply because many people don’t answer their phones if they don’t recognize the number. And if they sense you’re calling for money, they hang up quickly. Cold calls can work, but we would recommend trying the earlier methods first.