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Development Insights | How to Ask When Fundraising

Fundraising can be a tough sport. We’ve worked with countless non-profits throughout the years and fundraisers don’t always get the credit they deserve. They’re essentially sales people for non-profits that are doing amazing things for special groups around the world. Knowing how to ask when fundraising is an art that many novices are still perfecting.

We’ve started training non-profit groups on how to raise funds and what mistakes to avoid. One of the biggest blunders we see with fundraisers is not having a strong ask. They are excited to get any amount of donation yet don’t have a firm goal in mind.

So what should the ask include?

  1. Dollar amount: Having either a firm amount or a small range is acceptable, as long as you have a specific goal. When a potential donor says, “How much do you need?” you need to have a clear, confident answer.
  2. Purpose: Your dollar amount should be a direct reflection of the purpose of your mission. Do you need $100 to send a kid to summer camp? Or maybe $1000 to help pay the medical bills of a woman stricken with breast cancer? Know your purpose and use it to back up your dollar amount.
  3. Timeline: Once the money and purpose are clear, be able to articulate how soon it will be used. Donors want to know a general idea of a timeline and whether or not it’s an immediate need.

Meeting with donors can sometimes seem like a job interview. Fundraisers need to know their focus and their mission inside and out. Knowing these three pieces is essential in getting the donation.

We advise writing down your ask before you meet with any major potential donor. Sit with your Executive Director or others on your Development team to clear up any questions related to the amount, purpose, and timing of the donation. It may sound silly, but practicing the ask with a colleague or even in front of a mirror can help with confidence. It also helps prevents any stumbling or uncertainty later.

Finally, don’t forget to train board members and other organization personnel. It’s important for them to understand the ask, too. Walk through it at your next group meeting and coach your team on the importance of asking correctly. Your organization’s success depends on it.



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