The first time a donor gives to your non-profit should not be the first time they say “yes” to your organization.
Many fundraisers mistakenly think that the only way prospective donors can invest in their non-profit is by making a financial gift. In reality, getting your donors to say “yes” to a series of small, non-financial asks is often the best way to lead them towards making a major investment in your organization.
There are several important ways your donors can invest in your organization without writing a check. The most common are by volunteering their time, knowledge, or labor to help you in achieving your mission. When donors invest even a little bit of themselves in your non-profit, it means that they have an affinity for your work and want you to succeed.
The more they say “yes” to the small asks you are making, the more your donors will want to make sure that their investments pay off. This will not only draw them closer to your non-profit, but will also make your prospects far more likely to say “yes” when you ask for a first gift to your organization.
Here are some great ways you can get your prospects to invest in your non-profit, before you ask them for money:
Ask Them for Time
When your prospects invest their time in your non-profit, it is often the first step towards a monetary gift. You can ask your prospects for their time by asking them to set-up a meeting or a call to hear more about your work. Your cultivation meetings and calls should be two-way streets… you’ll want to give your donor time to talk about their interests, wants, and motivations so that you can build a strong relationship between them and your non-profit.
Ask Them for Advice
My favorite strategy for building relationships with prospective donors is to ask them for their advice. This advice can be generic, such as asking a prospect who received your newsletter what they thought about it and how it could be better… or, it can be specific to the donor, such as asking a donor who is a social media expert how you can get your message out better through social networking.
Ask Them to Serve
Another great way to get your prospective donors invested in your organization is to ask them to volunteer for one of your programs, or to serve on a committee at your non-profit. For many donors who serve on a committee, or spend a couple of hours volunteering on the frontlines, making a donation is the logical next step.
You Have to Ask
Remember, for each of the “small yeses” that you use to build stronger relationships with your prospective donors, you will still need to make an ask. You may be asking for time, advice, or service, but an ask is still an ask. Most people won’t volunteer their time or knowledge without someone from your organization sitting down with them in person or on the phone to specifically as them something like, “Would you be willing to help us serve food at our soup kitchen sometime next month?” Remember, people won’t give (time, talent, or treasure) unless they are asked.
Photo Credit: Amtec Staffing