Fundraising for charity is an important part of any nonprofit group's work. In the U.S. alone, donors gave almost $287 billion in 2011. Many people who work for nonprofits feel uncomfortable asking donors for money, but without their help most nonprofit groups would not be able to carry out their missions. Learning how to effectively and respectfully ask wealthy individuals for money can help you ensure your charity or nonprofit group prospers and is able to help those in need.
1 Compile a list of donors. Before you begin asking for money, it's best to have an idea of who you're going to ask for donations. If you're going door-to-door, that may be as simple as deciding which neighborhood(s) to work in. If you're soliciting donations by phone or by mail, though, you'll need a list of prospective donors to contact.
If you can identify past donors on your list of people to call or write to, you may want to prioritize those individuals as \"best bets\" - these are people who, given their history of donating in the past, will most likely contribute again to your cause.
Try to identify which people on your list are the most financially stable. You can do this by interacting with the individual to get a sense of his or her finances, or if going door-to-door, look at the houses residents live in and the cars in their driveways. People with large, elaborate homes or flashy sports cars most likely have more disposable income. (Though of course this doesn't guarantee that they will give donations.)
You can also look for potential donors by their other areas of spending. For example, does the prospective donor attend fundraisers for other organizations or individuals? If so, that prospective donor probably has the means to donate to your organization, if properly persuaded.
Consider using analytical software and services, such as Donor Search, to identify which potential donors are more wealthy and more likely to donate.
Remember to think \"ABC\" when identifying donors: Able to make a gift, Belief (known or potential) in your cause, and Contact/Connection with your organization.
2 Get to know your donors. If your organization has dealt with donors in the past, you or a colleague will probably know what strategies work best in making your appeal. Some people want to know how the money from last year was spent, while others may simply want to know how much is needed. Certain donors may have fears or reservations about donating, and it's important to learn to recognize those fears/reservations so you can address them in advance.
Some donors may need to hear particular terms or phrases in order to be persuaded to donate. If you know this to be the case, make some indication of this on your list so that when you call or approach that person, you'll know what to say.
Any time a donor seems reluctant to give but gives anyway, make a note of that situation on your list or in that donor's file (if you have one). Listen to what the individual says when he or she is reluctant, and try to find ways to assuage those fears - not just for this year's fundraiser, but for future years as well.
Be aware that many well-known philanthropists hire other individuals to manage donations and contributions. Because of this, you may not get to speak to the actual donor himself/herself. However, the employees hired by a philanthropist probably have the same concerns that the philanthropist does, and you may have some luck appealing to the philanthropist's interests through his or her employees.
3 Find ways to present your organization. People who have donated to your organization will no doubt be familiar with who you are (as an organization) and what you do. But what about people who have never donated before? How will you describe what you do to an outsider? This is important, as it may determine whether the individual will listen to the rest of your pitch. If possible, try to compile some data on what your organization has done in the past, the problems you hope to address after this fundraising drive, and how that prospective donation would help your cause.
Try to present your organization in a way that both explains what you do while also highlighting the issue you seek to change. For example, you might say something like, \"Did you know that [the issue your organization addresses] affects a significant portion of the city, and we are the only organization solely committed to addressing these issues in a comprehensive way?\"
It's not a requirement to have data compiled, but for individuals who aren't familiar with your organization, it may be very helpful to know that information.
Consider printing out a brochure or having a reusable chart to illustrate both the improvements you've made and the improvements you hope to make.
Think about what you might say if someone doesn't understand your organization's goals, or what you might say if someone was dismissive of your organization. Try putting yourself in those shoes - imagining that you were someone who didn't want to help the organization - and what you might say to the organization. Then imagine how you might respond to hearing those words.
The better your donor base understands your organization - and the better you understand your donors - the more likely you'll be to build a long-term relationship with that donor.
4 Practice your appeal. One of the best things you can do to strengthen your appeal for donations is to practice what you're going to say. That doesn't just mean knowing how to actually ask for money, but also knowing how to initiate the conversation, practicing scenarios, anticipating potential responses, and knowing how to direct (or re-direct) the conversation.
Practice your appeal out loud. Get comfortable with the speech, and learn to adapt it to your own style of speaking. Make it your own speech, and try to make it feel comfortable and unrehearsed (even though this may take a lot of rehearsal).
Try recording yourself, either with a tape recorder or on video, and study your mannerisms and your speech patterns. Does it sound honest? Do your vocal patterns and your physical mannerisms communicate the message of your organization, and the urgency of what you're trying to solve?
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