Ask and Receive. Now.
“Look before you leap,” mom said, not “don’t leap at all.” You can’t get what you don’t ask for in fundraising, so it’s time to take the plunge.
When we find ourselves paralyzed with fear and unable to act, it’s usually one of two things that’ll get us to jump: a push, or more fear of what’s behind us.
In fundraising we find ourselves dithering, questioning what our grant proposals say, unable to send the proposal where it needs to go. Or we don’t make that phone call to the potential donor whom everyone wants to contact. But it’s not doing any good thinking about why NOT to ask, when the reason to do so is the very bedrock of your cause. If you don’t ask enough, you won’t get enough. And when you don’t “get”, the organization suffers.
You believe in what you’re doing and that it’s worth it for others to support it, right? So that’s the reason you’re asking. When it’s time to ask for funding, give yourself that little push by remembering these things:
1. Think of the children.
If you don’t get this funding, how will your organization continue to provide your important services? How will you make the changes that will help generations of people to come?
2. It’s not you, it’s the cause.
You’re not asking potential donors for a personal loan or a “handout” – you’re asking them to contribute to a cause that will have a real return on investment. Your services and the impact your organization will make on your community are worth it.
3. A gift is not a favor.
When you’re asking a friend or a colleague, you’re not asking for a favor. You want to get your community members involved in a meaningful way with an organization that’s going to do the positive things everyone wants to see. You’re doing them a favor by giving them a chance to get in on it.
We once sent out a request to a prospect that was a really long shot, for a client serving seniors. This prospect wrote back to us saying, “We don’t deal with the aging, and we don’t fund your type of services, but you don’t get anything if you don’t ask, so here’s a check for $25,000.”
This is not a common thing. But the point remains true: you can’t get anything if you don’t ask. In Yours for the Asking Reynold Levy says:
“Many people tremble at the mere thought of asking for a charitable donation. They fear rejection. They worry about compromising their friendships or their relationship with clients. The very process seems awkward and uncomfortable…You need, then, to really believe in the cause or organization on behalf of which you seek funds…To overcome any inhibition, remember you are not asking for yourself but for others. Imagine the difference it will make…if your prospect says yes.”
Yours for the Asking, by Reynold Levy. Published by Wiley & Sons, 2008.
It’s spring and a time for growth, so get out there and start asking!
Tips: Spring Cleaning for Communications
Spring is here! Take this opportunity to do some spring cleaning in your organization’s communications.
You’ve already sent out your seasonal mailing for spring, and received a flurry of giving in response. Now, everyone goes on holiday and things quiet down for a few weeks. Use the down-time wisely:
It’s 2016 now – do your website and brochures say that? If you’re reporting on last year – 2015 – make sure your budgets and summaries say that.
Did your number of clients or services change? Do you have more programs? Did you spend more in 2015? Make sure your publicly available statistics are current.
Did you have any change of the guard recently? Check who is listed as the contact for your PR, communications, executive staff, and lay leadership. Make sure your website and literature all have the right names and contacts.
Working with vendors or other agencies that had staff changes? Go through your frequent contacts to make sure you’ve got the right names and addresses.
Make sure your website includes the names of new funders or donors from 2013. In the end-of-year chaos, it’s easy to forget to say “thank you” to those who gave later in the year.