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Faith Leaders Nonprofit Leaders Resources 7min read

How to Ask For and Get Donations

Does asking for donations make you a little uncomfortable? Whether in person, on the phone, or via email, it is important for a nonprofit to ask for donations. Getting comfortable calling on others for financial support means more donations and being one step closer to hitting your nonprofit’s goals. 

Remember, the mission of your organization is to make the world a better place. Asking for donations is really an invitation for people to join you on the journey—to help with the work and to celebrate the successes. When it comes to asking for donations, the focus should shift from reports and figures to the beautiful story of your nonprofit.

Why Do I Need a Story to Get Donations? 

Your nonprofit has a unique story. Who had the dream? How did it get off the ground? What have been the challenges? Who are some of the heroes? What are the biggest victories?

Think of asking for donations as an opportunity to share this story with potential donors. They’re not interested in reams of spreadsheets and data. They want to know the organization’s mission and vision. How it has changed lives and enhanced the target community?

Tell the story and let them know how far their financial contribution will go. For instance, if your cause works to reduce air toxicity in lower-income areas, tell that story. Look at this example:

  • Who are you helping? Focus on one or two families, their stories, and how their health is affected by the toxicity. If possible, provide images of the family members and their community.
  • What will donations do? Detail how installing air purifiers, upgrading buildings to meet acceptable safety standards, and ongoing testing will improve their health and quality of life. 
  • Why is this important? Describe how people are getting sicker because of an increased risk of allergies, asthma, and other lung problems. Show how this interrupts their work, school, and daily activities.
  • How much does it cost? Explain that for $20, you can help one family with air purification for a month. $150 buys HVAC units sold at cost by X organization. $1,000 pays for the air purification upgrade of one 2-bedroom apartment. 

Telling the story of the families you want to assist allows potential donors to see the true value of their donations. They can see how far it will go and who will benefit.

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What to Say When Asking for Donations 

When you ask for donations, you have an opportunity to get like-minded people to join you on your mission. While it’s easy to fall into a script that focuses purely on the financial side of things, you might miss your target audience. 

Instead, pepper your speeches and promotion material with language that paints a picture, connects emotionally and draws others in. Use words and phrases such as partner with us, donate, support, benefit, and help us build a community.

After you have shared your nonprofit’s story, it’s important to get to the heart of your request. When you ask for a donation, be sincere and honest. Make sure they know every dollar helps; even a small donation can go a long way.

How do I Deal with Those Who Say No? 

A negative response to your donation request can take the wind out of your sails. Simply thank them for their time and move on.

Ask and you shall receive doesn’t always mean an immediate yes. Often, for a nonprofit, a ‘no’ is a good answer because it closes the door and encourages you to direct your energy elsewhere. And you never know when someone will remember the story of your nonprofit, change their mind, and donate.

How do I Attract the Right Donors? 

The difference between a good and a great fundraiser is attracting the right donors. Working on a cause is like building a tribe with a common goal. If you’re unsure about those in your tribe, it’s hard to work together for a collective goal. 

So, besides thinking of your story and asking directly for donations, it is important to try to seek out like-minded people who will be the most likely to partner with you. This means targeting people who believe in the same causes you do. Branding plays a big role, and it’s important to target those who feel affected by your cause. 

For instance, an animal shelter may seem like a mainstream issue that affects everyone. However, not everyone is concerned. A mass approach no longer works. It’s best to focus your time and resources on individuals who are likely to feel strongly about your cause. 

Reach out to donors who want to be part of your community and share your common goals and interests. Your donor needs to feel confident that the cause resonates with them. A good example of this is a church congregation getting behind a community initiative. 

Finding donors who buy into your nonprofit’s cause is like finding the proverbial treasure in the field. When you focus on the right donor pool, getting donations becomes far easier. 

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How Can I Receive Donations? 

You’ve told your story and you’ve asked for a donation. The final step in asking for and receiving donations is the accessibility of donation platforms. In the digital age, it’s essential to open up digital options for donors so they can give directly and seamlessly. Ways to do this include: 

Donations Page 

A donation page on your nonprofit’s existing website is a fast and easy way to get donors to donate. Online giving is on the rise and in 2020 alone, saw an increase of 20.7%. Ensure that the website includes sufficient donor buttons to simplify the process. 

Mobile Giving 

At the very least, your website should enjoy responsive design. This means your donors can access your site from any device without hassle. The website automatically adjusts to the chosen device. 

Those who wish to go a step further can sign up for a mobile giving app. This allows them to access a wider network of donors. It also means someone else already did the hard work of creating an intuitive giving platform. With Givelify, for instance, charities can customize their donor page according to their needs. 

Traditional Donation Methods 

While the traditional methods should still be available, these should complement online giving. Donors should have a number of options available to them, especially during fundraisers. 

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being relevant and keeping up with technology. Online and mobile giving allows you to do just that. Sign up for Givelify and get set up for mobile donations. 

Your Mission, Your Story, Your Team 

At the end of the day, you’ve got a mission and an impactful story. Donors become part of your team as you move, step by step, toward your goal. Don’t be uncomfortable asking for donations; instead, invite others to join you as you change the world!

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About the Author

Giving Illustration

Luis Orozco is a contributing writer. His passions and expertise are nonprofit fundraising and development. He uses Givelify to support his local church and the social justice causes.

Luis Orozco