Written by Lauren Kehn,Victory Crew® Program Manager
If I had a nickel for every time a potential fundraiser said to me, "I hate asking for money"…well, let’s just say I could probably make my own hefty donation to the Foundation.
The truth is, in all my years of fundraising, I haven’t met many people who feel completely natural asking for money (or goods or sponsorship or whatever else they need for their fundraiser). Just like training for a bike ride or 5k, it takes planning and practice.
But also, just like training, you get better the more you do it!
So here are my top five reminders to help you get over the fear of asking so you can craft an ask they can't wait to answer. Remember these and you’ll reach your goal sooner than you imagined. And, if after reading this you still feel lost, contact me. I have provided samples and individual coaching to hundreds of Victory Crew® members over the years, and I know I can help you succeed.
#1- The person you’re talking to likes you.
If you’re just getting your feet wet fundraising, it’s best to start by reaching out to family and friends. These are people who like you. They’ll be excited to hear about this new undertaking and why you’ve decided to do it. Many of the people who fundraise for us often use their Victory Crew fundraising communications like a mid-year holiday card. This ask is a great excuse to catch up and people will be happy to hear from you.
#2 - You aren’t asking for YOU. You’re fundraising for a cause.
Yes, people give to people (see above where we reminded you that people really like you). But, for most people, it’s much easier to pitch a great cause. Think about why you’re doing this fundraiser and what the Davis Phinney Foundation means to you. Why does the Foundation’s work matter to you? What makes it unique in your eyes? Share that with your donors. Passion is contagious. They will sense your excitement and want to join in.
#3 - Think about how good you felt the last time you donated.
My guess is that the last time you wrote a check or volunteered your time or expertise to a charity, you felt great. When you invite people to give to your fundraiser, you’re providing them with the opportunity to get those same warm and fuzzy feelings you’ve had the joy of experiencing.
#4 - Don’t take nos personally.
A no to your ask is not a no to you. Expect nos and don’t get attached to them. They have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person you’re asking and their situation. In fact, let the people you’re asking know that it’s ok if they can’t give at this time. We all know there are many reasons why someone might not be able to make a financial gift at any given time. Let people know you understand that and give them other ways they can help like sharing your campaign on social media or volunteering for your event.
#5 - The more you tailor your ask, the more likely you are to get a response.
We’ve all received emails that felt canned. Emails where we know there are 500 other people bcc’d. I recommend ditching the mass email for a more tailored and specific approach, one that makes the person feel like they were hand-picked for a reason.
Even if parts of your ask are repeated, make your communications personal. Use the individual’s name. Include anecdotes. Ask specific questions. Make the communication about more than just the ask. Even if the person you’re asking can’t contribute, this kind of communication will open the conversation and create a connection. That’s worth the effort in and of itself.
Want to see some sample asks you can tailor to your own needs?
In order to help people who want to fundraise but worry about what to say to people, we’ve put together a sampling of five different ask letters that others have used with great success. Feel free to borrow ideas, copy and paste sections that work for you or use them in any way that you think will best inspire your people.