Apr 22, 2015
Raising funds isn't an easy road to navigate, even for board members who have signed on for the task. Because finances are a loaded topic, most people encounter difficulty in asking for money. Those who are new to the fundraising are bound to be nervous. But that doesn't mean they can't handle the challenge.
To make the most of donor recruitment and stewardship, it's important to train your team. Concrete guidelines and helpful hints will boost confidence, even during periods of trial-and-error. The more you work to calm the doubts of your organization's ambassadors, the sooner you can take advantage of your online fundraising tools to bring in donations.
Prepare for the ask
Practice is the most helpful action for a novice fundraiser. Cold calls can be especially daunting, since they can't be proofread or revised in the way a written appeal can.
That's why it's important to know the script before picking up the phone. Of course, you won't want to read from a script word for word. You'll come across as robotic, and the donor is likely to hang up in confusion.
Instead, fundraisers should practice several times. If possible, they should ask another volunteer or board member to give them feedback on how they sound. As an alternative, individuals can record themselves and listen to their voices before embarking upon their fundraising endeavors.
Frame a dialogue
While speaking becomes a lot more comfortable with practice, it's not enough to calm the anxiety over broaching the subject of money. A better way to embrace asking for financial support is to re-contextualize the conversation entirely.
Fundraising is not about requesting a hefty check, noted nonprofit expert Gail Perry. You're asking someone to be your partner in supporting a cause you both believe in. The transaction takes a back seat to the importance of your organization's cause. This mindset enables a more natural conversation with possible benefactors.
Listen to the audience
It's important that fundraisers don't surprise their audience. That means your nonprofit staff needs to do its research before seeking funds. Only those who have expressed an interest in your organization or its values should be on the receiving end of a request for donations.
On a final note, fundraisers should pay attention to the wording of their question. Instead of requesting a donation, they can ask for advice. This way, a potential donor can take an active role in the conversation instead of feeling put-upon. Supporters also have a stake in your charitable mission, and if prompted for feedback, they'll feel valued. This simple token of respect and appreciation can mean a larger gift.