11 Tips for Successful Fundraising

Some of my clients are non-profit groups, and money and donations are often Topic A right after their main mission. Asking for money for a cause or a non-profit agency can be difficult, especially in a tight economy.  It makes it that much more important for you to identify prospective donors, educate them about your group, inspire them to want to help, and ultimately, for them to donate to your cause. Here are 11 Top Tips to help donors say ‘yes.’

1. Initially, look for prospective donors who already have a tie with your agency. They’re familiar with what you do, who you help, and what’s involved with your operation.

2.  If making a ‘cold call,’ first send a letter explaining your campaign or fundraising effort, and then make a follow up phone call and ask for an appointment, ideally at a location where you won’t be interrupted.

3. Take time to share your involvement with the agency. Articulate why you are involved, and look for common ground with the prospective donor. Educate them about the agency (that means you have to know your stuff), and share with them any materials, brochures, or direct them to a website so they can later study the group and/or its history on their own. Answer any questions openly and honestly. You want to show the prospective donor the value your agency has to the community.

4. Be prepared to answer the following questions: Is your organization at its best at this time? Will your agency perform the way you say it will? How will your agency remain at its best in the future? How will I be ‘paid back’ with my investment in our organization?

5. Inspire a prospective donor with stories of success. Strike an emotional chord with donors. If possible, put human faces on success stories. People like helping other people.

6. Don’t only tell prospective donors how you’ve helped clients, but show them hard facts about success rates, and examples of successes. Demonstrate if possible, what’s being done in concrete terms to further the mission of the agency. Tours of your facility might also be recommended.

7. Be prepared to spend time with prospective donors, and the bigger the gift you seek, the more time you should be prepared to invest. A half hour appointment on a Wednesday morning may not do the job if you’re hoping for a check worth thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars.

8. Don’t leave it to the prospective donor to bring up money. You should approach it first, and explain the importance and impact their gift will have on the agency.

9. If the answer is yes, they will donate — thank them, and make sure you send out a ‘thank you’ note from your agency’s director, or campaign director.

10.  If the answer is no, it’s still necessary to thank the person for meeting with you and considering the request. If possible, find out whether there’s a later time that may be more favorable for a donation. If yes, follow up at the appropriate time.

11. If there is no chance of a gift, don’t take it personally, but thank them for their time. There may likely be some circumstances that are out of your control.

Building relationships is the key, and the more involved your donors are with your agency, the better your chance of success!

Margo Myers, Principal, Margo Myers Communications