A to Z of Fundraising


Fundraising is one of the most crucial yet difficult tasks of any organization. If you do not succeed in this endeavor, monetary goals will likely not be met and the whole organization will suffer. So how do you properly raise funds without your fundraising efforts going stale? How do you drum up support at the exact right time of the year for your contributors to want to give? If you would like answers to these and the other important questions that any fundraising effort needs to answer, then this article is for you. We will delve deep into the mysteries of fundraising and pull out the answers to make your next fundraising attempt a success.


Research Your Donors

As with any undertaking, research is very important for your fundraising goals. It can give you an edge when communicating with potential donors in a variety of ways. First of all, if you research your donors’ interests, it will give them the sense that you know them. Secondly, researching their interests gives you a way to connect your cause to the things that they are passionate about. Donors are more likely to donate to a cause that fits in with one of their passions in some way, as they tend to feel that a cause of this nature is worth their hard-earned dollars. Researching your donors also can make them feel as if you care about their interests, passions, hobbies and desires and about them as people instead of just donation numbers. This will make them far more likely to donate to your cause.


Practice Asking for Donations

No one asks for donors perfectly on the first try. That is why practice is absolutely crucial. Without practice, you will wind up stuttering and nervous or leaving out necessary information. You will look unprofessional, and unprofessional causes get fewer donors. By the time you are sitting in front of a possible donor, you should have practiced all the possible paths the conversation could take many times over. This way you do not get caught unawares when the conversation veers down an unexpected path. Another benefit to practicing every aspect of your ask is that the conversation will flow much more naturally, and you can simply focus on talking with your donors, learning about them and connecting.

There are three steps to practicing your asks. Start by writing down your asks and reading them aloud. When you have them memorized well enough that you do not need your written copy any longer, move on to practicing in front of a mirror. Just like when you were in elementary school, practicing your asks in front of a mirror can help you gain confidence and discover parts of your presentation that need more attention before you actually reach the donors. Finally, record yourself on video practicing. It would be wise to show this video to a friend or family member or someone that you trust. This extra pair of eyes can be valuable in pointing out problems or hesitations or things that you might have missed in your donation speech. Recording yourself on video also lets you see your own performance from a distance, so you can more objectively observe what the donors will see.


Never Surprise Your Donors

Make sure, up front, that your donors know you are asking them for money. If they act surprised, something is deeply amiss with your delivery. On the first call you make to them, it should be made clear that you are interested in them as a person but that there is a deeper purpose for your call. This gives your donors a chance to prepare their responses, questions and objections. Good fundraising is not about bullying your donors into submission. Rather, it is about showing them how your causes line up with their passions. A harassed donor is far less likely to donate to your cause, and much more likely to simply slam down the phone or snap at you, and things go much more smoothly when you and the potential donor are on a level playing field.


Do Not Bore the Donors

Being boring feels safe. You have a preprogrammed script and you want to stick to that script because you have memorized it. However, it is better to vary your script to fit your audience. This is not a speech, after all, but a request for funds from people who can either accept or reject it. It is important to study the flow of the conversation and tailor your delivery to suit the tone. If a donor seems cautious, for example, it is best to gently encourage them. If a donor is assertive, then you may back off the encouragement. Flexibility in delivery means that your audience can be more easily taken into account, and your donors will appreciate not being bored to tears.


Seeking donations for your cause can be intimidating and difficult. You never know if you are going to be accepted or rejected, and the whole thing hinges upon your ability to make a good impression on the potential donor. If you are too stiff or formal, you risk alienating them. Researching your donors before you even begin that first phone call can show you what sorts of people they are as well as what their passions and other causes are. This, in turn leads to a more intuitive delivery on your part as you show the donor how their passions and your causes intersect. Practicing your delivery is also very important. Practice your delivery over and over until you have it completely to memory. Then vary it based on the donor you are interviewing. Be sure to gauge their mood and give them ample chances to make objections or to outright refuse. A level playing field between you and the donors is crucial. Fundraising efforts can seem very intimidating. However, they do not have to be. Using this article as your guide, along with some knowledge of your donors, you will soon be making money for your cause. You will not even have to bully the donors to do it.