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4 Non-Negotiable Rules For Asking For Donations

Many people don’t donate to causes, because they haven’t been asked yet. According to a study in the Science of Philanthropy Initiative, soliciting donations from individuals can increase the probability that someone will give and up the amount they are likely to give. Sometimes, this is far easier said than done. 

Soliciting donations is not without its challenges. All donors, from annual fund to planned giving, require a certain level of cultivation. To convert a prospect into a donor you need to appeal to their charitable interests, find the right dollar amount to ask for, and predict the way they'd prefer to be solicited. The process can be extensive. 

For example, consider the possible difficulties that asking for donations online presents. How do you get a potential donor to your page, so that you can request an ask? How do you connect with those donors once they have arrived at your site?


These are important questions to address when asking for support on digital platforms. They are also indicative of the larger fundraising questions you should be delving into regarding donor acquisition. Once you make the first ask, you can work towards forming meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your donors.

Here are four tips for asking people to support your organization whether you are using traditional means or new, digital platforms:

1. Research your potential donors. 

Nonprofit organizations now have more tools and technology to help them identify and learn about potential donors. Using a CRM or donor management software, nonprofits can pinpoint which contacts to ask and get a feel for the most effective tactics to use when asking. 

With the help of your donor management system, you'll be able to track all sorts of donor data, such as:

  • Communication preferences
  • Relevant contact information
  • Event attendance history
  • Previous donations

Having that information at your fingertips will help you customize your approach to donation solicitation and increase donor retention.

Researching donors before the ask could help you anticipate what type of support or donation amount they are comfortable giving. For instance, a potential donor that is a millennial may be more willing to donate a small amount or participate in a fundraising event such as a run or walk. On the other hand, older donors may be likely to give a larger amount and may not be as enthusiastic about participating in an event. 

Account for those variables in support and giving. 

One organization that does this well is the Livestrong Foundation. On their donate tab they have multiple ways for users to support the organization including donating money, participating in a Livestrong event, or sponsoring an event participant. 



When prospects are newer and you have not had the opportunity to ascertain this valuable information, you can prospect screen your giving candidates. It will provide you with the key data you need to round out your prospect profiles within your CRM

2. Provide giving levels.

Instead of making donors guess what amount to give and how much that amount will contribute to your overall cause, guide them.

Suggest giving levels and show how each level will contribute to making a difference.

For example, for their Red Nose Day campaign, the UK based charity, Comic Relief, which works to fight poverty and social injustice, lists exact donor amounts. They pair each donation level with a compelling image and a short description that says exactly how the funds will be used. 


Some prospects and donors might be okay with contributing to a general fund, but most want to see cause and effect. They want to know that what they are contributing has a concrete impact on the recipients of your nonprofit's services. 


Digital Fundraising Checklist


3. Make it personal. 

Your solicitation has to be personal. Even when you are sending a similar email appeal template to a large group of prospects, it is imperative that you find a way to communicate with the donor on a relatable, genuine level.

The little things count when it comes to personalization, including:

  • Addressing the donor by name. Opening with "Dear Donor" signifies to the recipient that they are being reached via a mass communication.
  • Recalling past involvement. If someone has already supported your organization, as a volunteer, donor, or through some other means, that service deserves to be acknowledged immediately.
  • Providing opportunities customized to their interests and capacities. In other words, don't invite a donor who lives out of state to a 5K at your local park. Unless, of course, it's a virtual road race

Supporters are people first, donors or volunteers second. Make sure they feel confident that you recognize that. 

Especially with the web, asking for donations can seem to take the personal out the phrase 'personal appeal.' However, online donation pages can enhance the ask by including imagery, stories, and statistics that connect the viewer to your cause and compel them to take action. Furthermore, you can segment audiences and personalize messages specifically to a group or an individual when asking. 

The nonprofit, Serving Orphans Worldwide, features striking imagery, personal stories and compelling statistics throughout its website and other marketing. They also use the tagline, “Join the Rescue,” which makes users feel like they are more involved and part of the organization when they support it. 


4. Use integrated marketing tactics. 

Online fundraising tools have helped to make fundraising, donor communication, and many other nonprofit tasks easier.

Plus, when you pair those tools with your offline marketing tactics, you can amplify your success and reach. The more opportunities a supporter has to engage with your organization the merrier. 

Think of the multitude of ways your organization can promote your online donation pages through various platforms.

For example, running an email marketing campaign to promote a fundraising campaign can help increase reach and engagement. 

Asking for donations is tough and doing it online can seem even more daunting. But, when nonprofits employ these best practices, they are better able to amplify their reach, engagement, and support.

If you want to unlock more strategic fundraising tips, check out these additional resources:

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Topics: Fundraising