Is asking difficult for you? I have not encountered many people who enjoy making the ask; however, most recognize its importance in the fundraising process. I remember as a child when my sister or I wanted to go somewhere or have a snack or get something at the local store, we would go back and forth saying, “You ask,” “no, you ask.” Usually, it came down to one of us manipulating the other to get her to ask for whatever it was that we wanted. For many, asking for donations has become reminiscent of these same techniques. However, when we change the way we look at making the ask, we can become comfortable with the process AND we find that it is really not so difficult.
Know and understand that fundraising is as important to the organization’s work as everything else it does. Sometimes we forget that fundraising is a ministry. It is a ministry of connection.
When we offer someone an opportunity to give, we are giving them an opportunity to be part of a ministry and all that it does. You have probably encountered organizations that have used manipulative tactics to get people to donate to them; and unfortunately, that might be what you think of when you think of asking someone to give to an organization. But, when done right, asking for a donation is simply asking someone to join with you to serve a ministry or organization that you believe in.
Instead of using “strong-arm” or guilt tactics, instead focus on serving the donor. When making an ask, you know that the money will benefit the organization, but you also know (probably from personal experience) how giving money changes the individual who gives. Often, when we give, we experience greater blessings that those we give to. Giving changes our hearts!
Too often, when we look at potential donors, we look at factors that point to their potential to give…factors such as their annual household income, the value of their house, assets, etc., we want to know if they can give a major gift. Looking at these factors may cause us to overlook other people, who like the woman in Luke 21 are willing to give sacrificially. Those with fewer assets are often forced to rely on God for provision while those with more wealth begin to believe that they are able to rely on themselves. Providing an opportunity to give financially gives God an opportunity to change the heart of the giver.
So, some basic steps to invite people to join you in giving financially.
- Before contacting the individual, get print materials (brochure, campaign information, etc.) together.
- Schedule a meeting with the potential donor. Look for a quiet, casual place to meet, avoid restaurants as they do not provide privacy and can be quite loud.
- Share with the individual why you are involved with the organization. If you have personally made a financial commitment to the organization, share this as well. (Note: When you personally give, it makes it easier to ask someone else to give).
- Explain to the individual the need for funding and how they can help.
- Make the Ask. It usually works best to suggest a donation amount; then, let the individual know how the donation will make changes for those you serve.
- Once you make the ask, ask the individual if he/she has any questions.
- Then, sit quietly and wait for a response.
There are four potential responses: yes, no, a request to think about it, or an offer for a lower amount. If the response is yes, provide a pledge form or response card for the donor to make their commitment. If the response is no, thank the individual for his/her time and politely leave. If they need time to think and pray about it (and don’t most of us need time when making a large financial decision?), schedule a time to follow-up. Finally, if the individual offers a lower amount, provide the response card knowing that as they become more familiar with the work of the organization, they may decide to give more.
Whatever decision is made, know that you have planted a seed. While you would certainly like to be the one to harvest the seed that has been planted, know that God has just the right donors waiting for you to “Make the Ask.”
If you, your board or your staff need help, we can work with you to implement a Major Gifts Program. Contact us today.