There’s no way to dance around the "fundraising ask" in an effective fundraising appeal.
You must ask readers to relinquish their hard-earned dollars to your cause in a way that makes them thrilled to do so.
In terms of technique, the fundraising ask always includes some important elements:
But while those specifics are necessary, you must earn the right to present them. A respectful tone is the key. A cold, clinical approach by itself, without heart (“we need XXX dollars by the end of June”), won’t move prospects to open their wallets. They’re not reading a balance sheet; they’re learning about the work you do to alleviate suffering because they care. Readers intuitively understand when you are showing them respect versus when you’re trying to snow them.
The truth is … it’s uncomfortable to ask people for money (or in nonprofit lingo, “a financial gift.”) Even in a letter.
Surprise: you’re not asking for money. You’re not even asking the reader to support your organization.
You’re asking him to help another person.
An effective ask is about people, not your organization.
Your letter communicates excitement you feel about specific lives that have been changed through your nonprofit.
Think about it: do you excited when you read about a nonprofit’s infrastructure … their organizational chart … the staff retreats or meetings they have had … the 2-day meeting with the board about balancing your budget? No.
Readers want to know about how your work changes lives. That’s their motivator.
Here’s how to tell the story of a life that has been impacted by your cause or your organization.
Only after you’ve done an outstanding job of weaving your mesmerizing story of a transformed life have you earned the right to make the Ask. You have engaged the prospect, enticed him, inspired him and motivated him to say “yes” … because he’s seen the tremendous benefits you provide for people. At that point, you have shown him respect and can ask for a specific dollar amount, giving him detailed instructions about how to donate, emphasizing the urgency to do so.
Remind the prospect about the beneficiary in the opening story. Explain how the prospect’s gift will help change people’s lives – people like your beneficiary.
The key word here?
People. So the secret to an effective fundraising “ask” is quite simple:
People don’t give to an organization.
People give to people.
More writing tips for fundraising campaigns
More on using stories and anecdotes in nonprofit letters
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