Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

How to Ask People to Give Money to Your Nonprofit Organization

How to Ask People for Money | Historic Preservation | Wisconsin Historical Society

If you work or volunteer for a nonprofit organization, you might feel like your organization is constantly begging for money. No matter how strongly you support your organization's cause, you probably find it difficult to ask others to support your organization with their hard-earned cash. But don't give up! Like any other skill, fundraising usually gets easier with practice. The tips given below, adapted from Joe Garecht of The Fundraising Authority, suggest some easy ways you can encourage people to support your organization financially.

Host a Friendraiser

If your organization is new, your group can ease into fundraising by holding an event to cultivate potential supporters without directly asking them for anything. This type of event is sometimes called a friendraiser. A friendraiser can be a casual or lavish event — whatever is right for you and your board. A friendraiser could be a gathering at a board member's house, or a regular happy hour with a few of your organization's friends plus some guests. Backyard friendraisers can be a great way to expand your membership. Just make sure that invitees understand the event is being hosted by your organization.

Brainstorm with Your Board

Fundraising is a primary board responsibility. You can help your board achieve its goals by organizing a brainstorming session focused on potential donors and contacts. Record everyone's ideas in a spreadsheet or a donor database. Develop an outreach plan and goals, and review your progress regularly. The depth of your board members' relationships with potential donors will figure into their success. It's often critical that potential donors connect with an organization via someone they know and respect. Cold calls are usually a waste of time.

Brainstorm with Existing Donors

Another good source of ideas for potential donors is people who have already decided to support you. Some donors may enjoy being a working member of your team rather than just writing you checks. These people might be happy to solicit their friends and colleagues on behalf of your organization. You can request this help at an annual meeting. Better yet, host a program where you demonstrate how existing donations have made a difference in your organization's success.

Cultivate Good Publicity

Good publicity goes a long way. You can cultivate good publicity by adopting a public relations mindset and creating a public relations plan for your organization. Use your organization's good press as a tool for donor cultivation, and include it with grant applications. When your supporters forward good stories about your group to others, they raise awareness about your organization's work and promote its worth.

Create Affinity Groups

You can expand your organization's appeal — and your donor base — by establishing common interest groups among the volunteers in your organization. For example, you might form a group for young preservation professionals. If you appoint the right group leaders, you may even revive your entire organization with a fresh batch of engaged volunteers and donors.

Value Volunteer Time and Expertise

Donations come in many forms. Time and expertise have value, and supporters who are already giving these to your organization can open the door to more volunteer support. Encourage your volunteers to find more volunteers. Friendships can also help build a culture of giving (and friendly competition) during fundraising and membership drives.

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