How to Ask for Donations

How to Ask for Donations

Hello, fellow nonprofiteers. It’s @fundraiserchad with another fundraising quick tip. Today, I want to talk about a question I get all the time. Folks say, “Chad, how do you actually ask people for donations? How do you get those words out of your mouth?” What they’re really saying is, “How do you beg and plead for money all day long?” And to be clear … I don’t do that. I’ve never done that. That’s not what fundraising is. So before we get to the actual words that I use, I want to address mindset, because mindset is huge in fundraising and especially with making an ask.

So, what about mindset? What do we need to think about? Well, we need to replace that asking, or even begging mentality, with relationship building. That’s what fundraising is! Fundraising is relationship building. We don’t ask for anything until we’ve built a relationship with somebody. We have to get to know them. We have to take the time to cultivate that relationship. So, don’t let your mindset get in your way. And, don’t let your apprehension about asking get in the way of a donor who wants to make a gift. Let me say that again because it’s important. Don’t let your apprehension about asking take away from a potential donor the opportunity to make a difference in this world. So fix that first.

Now we’ll talk about the words. After I’ve formed a relationship with a potential donor and I think they’re passionate and they might want to help too, I almost always use the same words in an ask, and it sounds like this. “I hope you’ll consider joining me in supporting this cause with a donation of $5,000.” Or, “I hope you’ll consider joining me in supporting this cause by serving on the board of directors.” Those words, “consider,” and “join me” are incredibly effective. First with “consider,” do I need an answer right now? No, I just need them to think about it. So let’s use that soft ask. That is going to be more likely to get a yes. “Yeah, I’ll think about it.” That’s all I need to hear. Then, “join me.” “Join me” is incredibly powerful. We are a world of folks that like to come together. The human race likes to join together. So by saying, “I’m already doing this, would you join me in doing it too?” That’s incredibly effective. So “consider,” and “join me,” are great words to use. Focus on them, not the ask, and it will be so much more natural, so much easier and so much more effective when you make an ask.

So that’s what we do. We fix the mindset and then we use words that are going to soften our ask and make it more effective. That’s how you make a fundraising ask.

I cover this in much more detail and lots of other tips in my webinar, “How to get a donor visit and knock it out of the park.” You can instantly view a recording of that webinar by following this link.

Need Some Best Practices for Time Management?

I was honored to be interviewed by Ryan Dilworth for his “In Other Words” podcast about the best practices for time management. We have a wide ranging discussion which highlights one of my favorite time management techniques, time blocking.

Do you have 22 minutes to amp up your productivity (so you can amp up your fundraising)?

Give It a Listen

To #GivingTuesdayNow, Or Not, That is the Question

To #GivingTuesdayNow, Or Not, That is the Question

It’s coming. Yes, Giving Tuesday … Now. Another giving day where every organization in our communities asks all of their donors to support them on the same day. Do I think it’s a good idea? I really don’t. We’ve been through this before with Giving Tuesday and other community giving days. Why do we want to ask our donors for support on the same day that every other organization also asks them? Yes, we can raise some money, but is it worth it? Do we want to be just another number or do we want to stand out? Don’t we want to deepen relationships? That’s why I always encourage nonprofit organizations to practice Gratitude Tuesday rather than Giving Tuesday.

So, what do you want to do about Giving Tuesday Now?

As a backstory, the Giving Tuesday organization is doing Giving Tuesday Now on May 5th as a way to generate additional donations in the time of COVID-19. They are doing this to help organizations that are really struggling and need that extra infusion of cash. I understand it’s a noble cause, and it’s needed. But might it be better to do our own thing? Might it be better to thank on Giving Tuesday Now and ask the week before, before the flood of solicitations comes out? Do what you need to do. If you truly have an urgent need, then please ask. If you don’t have an urgent need, I think it might be in your best interest to offer gratitude and wait this one out.

This week’s free resource is a great article by my friend Julia Campbell. She gives you some suggestions on things you can do to engage your donors on Giving Tuesday Now, other than asking …

How to Fundraise in the Time of COVID-19

Donor Retention: 5 Ways to Create Lasting Relationships (GuideStar)

Donor Retention: 5 Ways to Create Lasting Relationships (GuideStar)

It’s that time of year.  The time of year when we naturally take a (brief) sigh of relief and focus a bit more on retaining donors than acquiring them.

Right after the influx of calendar year end donations is the ONE time of year where stewardship and retention activities come natural.  Since it’s on your mind anyway, why not add a bit of focus and big picture thinking to your retention strategies. 

Here’s a great article by my fundraising bud, Steven Shattuck, over on the GuideStar blog which will challenge you to think a little deeper about donor retention in your shop …


Should you bother with Amazon Smile? (Future Fundraising Now)

Should you bother with Amazon Smile? (Future Fundraising Now)

What do you think, should you?

Yes, it’s (a tiny bit of) additional revenue. But guess what else it is? Another ask. Do you really want to waste one of your precious limited asking opportunities on something that returns so little?

I’ve felt this way for a long time, but have never felt the calling to take a stand on it (maybe I’m scared of Amazon cancelling my prime account … I’d be so up the creek). Thankfully I don’t have to … fundraiser guru Jeff Brooks (one of my go to gurus) has spelled it all out for you over at Future Fundraising Now.


And what I am currently recommending for clients and other nonprofits that want to know? Register for the service, but don’t actively promote it. Then your insiders (board, staff, key volunteers, etc.) can participate if they want, but you aren’t using an ask for your general donor population.

Giving Tuesday: You Have a Decision to Make — Yay or Nay? (NonprofitPRO)

Giving Tuesday: You Have a Decision to Make — Yay or Nay? (NonprofitPRO)

Argghhh, it’s that time of year again: #GivingTuesday.

Long time subscribers will know my view point on this nonprofit “holiday,” so I’ve decided to mix it up a bit this year and let someone else chime in.

So check out this great post from Laurence Pagnoni at NonProfitPRO with another view point and more information on the decision that you need to make …


And if you really want to know, here are some past posts of mine on the topic (their headlines are probably plenty to know where I stand):

Veritus Group: Get Rid of the Word ‘Annual’

One of my most common recommendations to clients is to start a monthly giving program.

It’s hard to believe, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared a Veritus Group article with you all.  That’s a crying shame because they are awesome!

Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels deliver great content on a regular basis.  Much of their content is major gift related (and is sometimes a stretch for the tiny fundraising shops that most of you run), but there are also gems like the post I’m sharing today … “Get Rid of the Word Annual.”

I’m sure you see where this is going.  Why do we use this counterproductive term?  We’re essentially training our donors to only make one donation per year!  Richard has some other examples of ways that we do this and some alternative language that you can put into use immediately.


How Do You Define “Major Donor” at Your Nonprofit?

How Do You Define “Major Donor” at Your Nonprofit?

It’s time to address one of the most common questions that I receive: “What is a major donor?” or “What level is a major donor?” You all want a number. You want me to say it’s $5,000 or it’s $10,000. I can’t do that because it’s arbitrary. In some organizations it’s $500 and I’ve seen it as $50,000 in some organizations.

But really it doesn’t matter because the next question is, “What are you going to do about it?” What are you going to do with that group of donors that is your major donors? What are you going to do that’s different, that’s special, that makes them feel like this is a personal relationship they have with your organization? Do you know what you’re going to do or you have some ideas? Now the question is, how many donors can you do that for?

For super small one person it might just be 10 or 25. For bigger shops, with a dedicated development director, maybe 50 or 100. Once you know the group that you can support at that level, then you’re ready to define what a major donor is for your organization. So print out the list of all past donors, sort it by the size of last gift and look for the break point.

Wherever that falls, that’s a major donor for you. It can change over time but that’s the level of major donor that you’re capable of supporting at this point in time. That’s what matters. The dollar amount doesn’t matter. It’s all about where you can provide the personal experience that’s going to grow their relationship and their support of the organization.

PTO Fundraising: Raise More Money at Your Next Event

Would like to raise $5,050 more at your PTO’s next fundraising event?

Are you tired of running all over town picking up donated gift cards for your silent auction which don’t even sell for face value?

Do your events seem to raise the same amount of money year after year no matter what you do?

Then try a wishboard at your next event and raise more money with less effort.

So, what’s a wishboard?

A wishboard is a stand alone donation board. It consists of 100 spaces where event attendees can make a donation to the organization in any amount from $1 to $100. Once a board is filled the organization has raised $5,050 in contributions.

Typically, wishboard supporters will also support other event fundraising opportunities (e.g. silent and live auction). The wishboard amounts are small. Because of this, wishboard support is often given in addition to other contributions.

Wishboards are an easy way to get more revenue from your event with minimal effort from volunteers.

Here’s a sample of what one looks like …

How does it work?

Adding a wishboard to your next event is quite simple. Here are the steps …

1) Select a specific project or program for which to fundraise (this works far better than unrestricted operating support as it’s something your organization is “wishing for” but does not currently have the funds to purchase). A new piece of playground equipment is a perfect example;

2) Have a wishboard designed (we can help with this);

3) Decide how the board will be displayed/featured;

4) Assign volunteers to the wishboard at the event and make sure they are trained on what to say (“Would you like to sponsor a few spots on our wishboard? It’s funding ______________.”);

5) Make the purchase process as seamless as possible (Are you using names or bidder numbers? Can they pay instantly via credit card?).

How do I make it happen?

You now know everything you need to know in order to add a wishboard to your next event.

Your designer and printer can easily create a wishboard for you.

But to make it even easier, we offer custom wishboards shipped to your door in 3 weeks (or less) for just $150 plus tax. If you fill the board that’s $4,900 for your organization after the expense of the board.