Fundraising: Seize the (Awkward) Moment with Five Simple Steps

By - April 10, 2022

Nonprofit organizations are driven to success largely by two factors: individual passion and generous donations. Interestingly, although these two vital elements operate in tandem, they are oftentimes not proportional- there is far more enthusiasm to go around than there are funds. Despite possessing an unrelenting devotion for their chosen cause, members of the nonprofit workforce struggle to translate their passion into effectively soliciting donations.

Asking for money can be awkward, even for the most noble cause. Regardless of whether you’re reaching into your personal pool of supporters or soliciting corporate sponsors, it’s difficult not to grit your teeth when you click that “send” button.

The discomfort of approaching people- both loved ones and strangers- for money may never fully dissipate, but if you can harness the power of your passion for your organization and pour it into intensive planning leading up to your financial ask, you will find confidence take over. Below are five actionable steps that will empower you to make the most out of your next fundraiser.

1. Why do you care about your cause?

Sometimes we get so deep into the weeds of our work that we forget to take a step back and remember what excited us about our jobs in the first place. What brought you into this industry, and what does this cause mean to you personally? Take a moment to appreciate your mission and anchor your ask on your personal passion for the cause. Find a way to articulate your ask to donors with the same energy and enthusiasm that drives you to work every day.

2. Templates for the win

First, consider your reach. Take some time to brainstorm target donors in both your personal and professional circles before organizing them into ‘buckets’ and crafting a script that pertains to each group. Your core message will often be the same, but you’ll want to personalize your ask based on the context through which you know each ‘bucket’ of donors. Consider the medium for your outreach before leveraging your scripts. Different ‘buckets’ will respond better to text messages or emails than calls.

3. Incentives: they’re not just for kids

What would inspire you to give money to a cause? The cause itself carries some serious weight, but external motivators certainly don’t hurt. People of all ages are attracted to a good incentive, and there are a few ways motivate them: you could individually incentivize donors by offering them something in return for their contributions or set incentivization markers at major monetary milestones (read: I will jump in a frozen lake if I reach my personal goal of $5,000 today). If you’re up for the challenge, you could take both paths! Be intentional in setting incentives. Opt for quality over quantity in this area and be careful not to overwhelm your target audience with content.

4. Leverage anecdotes to bring your mission alive

Choose a few of your favorite stories that illustrate the impact your services have had on the people you serve and be able to tell them well. Testimonials are incredibly powerful tools, especially to those who are encountering your organization for the first time. Metrics are helpful tools (people served, national growth, etc.) but when it comes to nonprofits, emotions win the day. When potential donors can envision a real person benefitting from the services stemming from their money, it makes your cause real. 

5. Set your goals and create a plan that supports them

Whether your upcoming fundraiser is scheduled for Giving Tuesday or next week, come up with a concrete plan of action. Start by identifying what you want to have accomplished by the end of the day and work backwards. You’ll find that this method will help you to gauge how realistic your aspirations for the day are. Map out a schedule for your entire workday and create targets to have accomplished specific tasks.

By taking the time to infuse your strategy with your passion and devotion, you will revolutionize your fundraising. Remember to believe in your ask and your cause. The worthy missions powering nonprofit organizations sell themselves when communicated intentionally, so go forth with confidence and start preparing for your next fundraiser today!

Interested in further strengthening your nonprofit’s strategy? Visit Nonprofit and education | Industries | RSM US for more insights and guidance.

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