There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to nonprofit fundraising. It’s the one thing many of us are uncomfortable doing, yet it’s one of the most necessary tasks to keep your organization thriving. We’re talking about making “the ask.” While it seems like a daunting task, it’s a skill that anyone can master over time using a simple 6-point process proven to work time and time again. Before you make your next ask, check out the 6-point process below and get on your way to making “the ask” a simple task!
Every single ask is not guaranteed to be successful; especially if you have not done your due diligence to research and decide whether the potential giver is a match for your organization. Enter curiosity. Making sure you are prepared to ask for the meeting is the first step. Not everybody will be a match, and that’s okay! It’s all about finding the right supporters.
Find out if there is a mutual interest and alignment with your cause, and see if there is an agreement on desired outcomes from the meeting. If there is, it’s time to move on to the discovery phase.
While you’ve done your research, the first meeting should always be about discovery and having a deeper discussion. You won’t be able to learn everything on your own without having this conversation. You’ll want to ask questions to figure out who the person is and how they could be most impactful for your organization.
Get out there and gain a stronger understanding of your potential donor. While it is ultimately about getting a donation for your organization, it’s also about helping this person meet their philanthropic goals. Working together is key! Do you both want the same things? This is the time to find out.
An initial meeting that went well is a starting point, but there’s much more to do. Follow up to stay top-of-mind for your potential donor. Send a personalized, hand-written thank you note for your potential donor’s time. Include specific details, so they know you were truly listening. They deserve to know that they are more than just a number to your organization.
In addition to a hand-written thank you note, send an email to outline how you see both parties working cohesively to achieve your org’s goals. Provide next steps that are clear. Will you be following up? Do they have more info they need to provide for you? Make it as easy as possible on your potential donor!
Your nonprofit exists to help solve a problem and provide a solution in the world. Now it’s time to make your case for support by involving your potential donor in the solution. Pitch to them how you picture their partnership in helping achieve your organization’s mission.
Now comes the most nerve-wracking part. Well, at least it would have been nerve-wracking if you hadn’t followed this plan! But not you— you’ve done your due diligence and you’re prepared to make an educated suggestion. It’s time to propose a donation amount and provide Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Return On Investment (ROI) examples to show how you’ll truly apply the gift.
It doesn’t stop there—discuss how the donor will be involved moving forward. For example, are they interested in being a repeat donor? Would they be a good candidate to sit on your board of directors or work as an ambassador? Make sure to emphasize just how impactful your donor’s contributions will be for your org.
Now that you’ve agreed to an amount, it’s time to talk next steps! How will you actually make it happen? Sit down with the donor to develop a plan.
Establish terms of the donor’s relationship with your organization based on your prior conversation. Will it be a recurring donation? Should you reach out to them for special initiatives in case it peaks their interest? Tell your donor how you will measure success and stick with a plan to update them. Ask about concerns or preferences so that their expectations are clear.
You’ve now come to an agreement and are ready to get to work! You’ll want to reiterate just how important this donation is to your organization and encourage them to help spread the word. You know that your organization is the right choice, and you now have a new advocate on your side. Make sure they truly believe their money is going toward the best cause.
When it comes to sharing your impact, use real numbers. Talk to real people who have been impacted by your organization. Share the things that would make you want to give. When it comes down to it, we’re all human. Share the stories that would tug at your heartstrings or make you want to give again.
Making the Ask
Ready to learn more? Take a deeper dive and watch a recording of my webinar, “Making the Ask” to uncover why it’s difficult to ask, common mistakes and assumptions made during the process and 10 ways to overcome your fear of asking for fundraising dollars.