Fundraising isn't just about soliciting gifts, it is about building and sustaining relationships. It is easy to become overwhelmed with fundraising techniques, donor prospecting, and events. Instead, focus on building trust and confidence, combining your compelling and emotional story, and defining clear calls to action. Your goal is to inspire a greater number of stakeholders so that your prospects can take immediate action. People DO want to help, they may just need some coaching about your project goals and how they can be of greatest support.
A well organized plan that helps communicate your message more effectively is critical, as in an organized team of fundraisers that understands their role so they can execute their part of the mission flawlessly. Everyone should know and be able to easily state the value proposition. They need to be able to do it in just a couple of sentences so it is concise, succinct, and convincingly describes why you are raising funds. Writing a clear mission statement is a great way to achieve this, and also helps you to align to the mission of potential funders.
Laura Fredrick's (2006) book, The Ask: How to Ask Anyone for Any Amount for Any Purpose, presents the following"10 Guiding Principles for Any Ask":
- The more personal and sincere you are with the people you are cultivating, the quicker you will be able to make the ask.
- Every prospect must be treated separately and distinctly.
- Anyone asking for a gift must first make his or her own gift.
- Ask for a specific amount for a specific purpose.
- Consistent givers can and will make larger gifts.
- Always use "we" instead of "I" in any ask because that connotes that the ask is being done with all the strength and backing of the organization.
- Any organization's planned giving program must be coordinated with all other fundraising programs.
- Every campaign prospect must be asked for as specific amount, with guidelines on how to fund the gift and with a proposed time frame.
- At the initial ask, stay committed to the ask amount.
- The ask without the follow-through will result in no gift.
Before making an ask, it is certainly important to prepare, define your prospects primary interests, talk about the benefits and how the gift will change lives, target the ask to the right amount, and time the ask just right. Remember, more important than having all of the details lined up perfectly, it is most important to move forward and actually 'make the ask'?