Fundraising is all about money in the door. It’s not money for money’s sake: it’s about funding the important work of your nonprofit. But two questions remain: where will the money come from and how will people know you need it? We believe you have to let people know what you need and then ask for financial support. Here’s how to do it.
First, let’s eliminate “cold calling.” You are not a salesperson – you are a person who believes in the work of your nonprofit. You may be a CEO, development staff person, board member, volunteer, alumni, or “concerned citizen.” Regardless of your role you have to believe in the organization, and you have to give before you can ask others to do so. If you are an employee – you want to talk first with those who already give to your organization. You want to ask them to give again, and to let them know why their continued giving is so valuable. One warning: before asking a donor for another gift, consider whether you have been in communication with them, or if you are treating them like an ATM. People notice these things, so plan ahead.
As an employee you should also work as a match-maker: seek out individuals who know people who can influence or ask for gifts from those they know. You don’t have to be the person to solicit all the gifts. Most professional fundraisers are successful when they creatively build and curate relationships amongst donors who encourage their peers to give. Of course staff solicits – don’t get us wrong. And they submit grant applications, follow up with information promised to current or prospective donors by a solicitor, and more.
If you are a board member, donor, volunteer or alumnus you don’t need to be timid about soliciting on behalf of a nonprofit you believe in. Be straightforward in your conversations. Share information, and at the appropriate time ask for a gift. Think about how you would like to be approached and begin your conversation that way. Also, remember that many people have access to funds through their employment, foundation or business. When you talk with these individuals about giving you are helping them to do their job. It is their responsibility to help ensure that philanthropic funds – or money earmarked for the community – actually goes to the community.
Here are four things to focus on. Be prepared. Make your own gift first. Don’t hide behind email. Prepare for objections. Ask for a specific amount. We prepared a “cheat sheet” to help focus your solicitations and help increase your success.
We will say it again, fundraising is not sales – it is about relationship building. And that relationship should be built on trust. Those engaged as solicitors should trust that the organization they are soliciting for is sound. Those who are employed within a nonprofit should support volunteer solicitors with information and follow up as requested.
Here’s what you need to know to solicit a gift.
[Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.]