Nonprofit Tuesday-The Art of the Ask

One of the things that I hear the most and get the most questions on regarding obtaining grants and sponsorship is "how do you ask".  For some people this is one of the most challenging and intimidating aspects of running/managing a nonprofit.   

With the most recent event that I planned (with my current employer) we were tasked with raising $60k  from this particular event.  The funds can come in any form (donations, sponsorship,  grants) but we needed to meet $60k by the end of the event we reached over 70k (most of which was raised in less than three months), and did it by strategically asking for what we want. 

Here are five steps that helped us reach our goal and can hopefully help you as you start to reach out for funding. 

  1. Personalize it- When we reached out we got personal in our ask. Ever letter sent was personally signed, every call we mentioned something that we knew about the donor, we thanked our donors and repeatably let them know (whether in written, electronic, or via telephone) how grateful we are for their support no matter the size.  Donor's want to feel connected to your cause but they also want to know that they are contributing to making a difference. 
  2. No fear zone-  You have to enter the "no fear zone".  Some of the best advice I was ever given was "all they can do is say no".  Think about it, if all they can do is say no then it's worth the ask because you just might get a yes. Get over the fear of "no", believe me you're going to get a lot of no's but you will also get some yeses.  You will never know which one if you don't ask! 
  3. Get resourceful- Tap into your resources. Reach out to your network to see who knows who or who can connect you to someone that you may see as a potential donor. Your governing board should be a great resource for this. If you don't have a board, don't be afraid to use social media to network and connect with people.  Think outside the box and you will be surprised on what you find. 
  4. Build your list- This is imperative! Part of what helped us is that we have a strong database of supporters.  Start to build your database, when you collect business cards at events add them to your contacts, when you throw events collect emails..etc.  Start to create your community of supporters and be sure each out to them for more than just money, send updates and quick hello's, you'll be surprised on how far this will get you. 
  5. Research- Do you research! This is especially key when you are reaching out to new donor's and foundations.  Research who they support, when they supported that particular cause and whether that cause applies to your mission.  Please don't ask anyone for funding without knowing background information. Remember, you only get one time to make a great first impression and the goal is to create lasting relationships that will lead to repeat donors/sponsorship. 

Feel free to use the above infographic as resource and as always remember to explore, discover, dream and #BeDestined.