Successful fundraising starts with the right mindset.
Fundraising is often thought of as asking people for money. We even use language like “ask” and “appeal.” While it’s true that fundraising requires nonprofits to “ask” – we sometimes forget that asking does not mean CONSTANTLY asking. How you ask, what you ask for, and what happens between your asks play critical roles in your long-term fundraising success.
We have found that if we approach fundraising as an INVITATION rather than an ASK we are happier as fundraisers and our donors are happier as well.
You are asking for people to get INVOLVED and engage with your nonprofit community. That may mean money, but it also could mean being an ambassador, attending an event, buying a piece of art, joining the board, etc. You need many people in every category to have a successful organization.
When your mindset is INVITING INVOLVEMENT, you are less prescriptive of the outcome and are more open to what may happen.
Here’s an example:
You are just starting out and you contracted a part-time bookkeeper. You are paying this person $250 per month to keep your books in order. Month-end is approaching in 10 days and you do not have enough to pay this person. You feel horrible. So you start to ask people to help.
- Scenario 1: You ask everyone you know to pitch in to help you pay a bookkeeper. You text, email, and call whoever you can think of asking them for $25 each hoping to get 10 people to give at least $25 and assume some will give more and some less.
- Scenario 2: You take a deep breath and you put together an outline of who benefits from your nonprofit, why you started it, how to accomplish it, a very brief business case, and a shortlist of needs. Every day you text, email, and call 5-10 people on your list to ask for a few minutes of their time. You provide a 30-second explanation of what you are trying to achieve and how you plan to accomplish it. You ask them if this type of work interests them and if you could email them some more information. You follow up with an email and highlight the things you need – and that cash shortfall is in there loud and clear. You know that if you ask enough people, you will get enough to pay your bookkeeper, but you are also optimistic you will likely recruit board members and volunteers in the process.
Scenario 2 illustrates the “Invite Involvement” mindset. You do not hard sell your contacts, and instead, you present information to make the most of the interaction. The INVITATION is where the magic happens. 80% of the people you reach out to will say they are interested in hearing more, and many of them will give what they can. Even if they do not give money, you are benefiting from the interaction and leaving them as fans of your cause.
You should keep all your contacts regularly informed about your mission and you can then earn the opportunity to reach back out with the ongoing needs of your nonprofit.
Compare this to Scenario 1, not only did you waste an opportunity to explain the bigger vision, but you also asked for an amount that may have been more or less than their philanthropic budget allowed.
It’s critical that we use the time between asks to communicate non-urgent happenings, report on the impact of the gifts, and remind donors that they are imperative to your mission — it is them doing the work along with you.
Take some time this summer to refresh and reframe.
As always, if our team can help you improve your online giving experience, do not hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org