My Comm Week Experience

Written by:

Sharon Daniel



Did you know that 75% of all families give in the United States?! Hopefully, by you learning the steps to being an effective fundraiser will be motivating enough to not being afraid to ask. There will be times were you will be told “no,” but just by you being knowledgeable and confident enough to ask makes asking so worth it. Just remember the “no” can mean not at this time, or that there’s simply no money to give at the moment. Special guest speakers Jim Eskin and Michael Bacon talked about how to be behind a successful fundraiser.  Michael Bacon put it into perspective when he said you have to “check your ego at the door, because it’s not about you, it is about the mission and funds that you raise.” I am happy to share some knowledge that I learned with you, so hopefully when you go on your own fundraising mission, you will have a solid game plan!

What to expect:

-People don’t give unless asked.

-Donors’ might donate a small amount at first to see what you will do with it, before they give a bigger gift. You have no control of donations of donors.

-Not everyone will donate.


Planning your ask:

What do we know?

-The list of donors.

-Amount received.

Where are you going to ask?

-Best places are in a person’s home or office, not at a restaurant because it is in an uncontrolled environment (waiter coming through).

How are you going to ask?

-Face to face is the best, phone call if you met and spoken to the person already.

-Don’t tell of the discussion over the phone. If you say to the donor that you need the “practice your sing and dance,” chances are they will not say “no.”

-Most likely there will be a gate keeper; it is helpful to have a friend of the donor to call so the call will go through.

-Set an appointment with the clear purpose of sharing a gift proposal, no surprises!

-Get as many people a part of the donors goals that also support your mission to back you up when you ask for a donation (ex. Staff members, peer volunteers, board members), so that it will give more reason for the donor to say “yes.”

-Offer if anyone would like to be there (spouse? CPA?), so everyone is there at once.

-Summarize and ask for the steps next taken, like “how do you feel about me calling you in (X) months for a donation of (X) amount?” or “can we count on you for a gift of (X)?”

Materials you need:

-Specific proposal with cost estimates or benefits noted, like of the donors target audience is also the audience you will be serving.  

-Tell a case for support, like a story (ex. of family we served).

-Financial or fundraising progress report. Donors want to know who else donates.  Note: Ask for part of but not the whole amount of something.

Things to remember:

-Don’t judge a book by its cover. You never know who your next donor will be.  

-Be conversational.

-Practice in the mirror.

-Always have a plan B.

 It dawned on me that this advice was not just beneficial for fundraising purposes but can also be applied to your own personal life. As a tip, Michael Bacon said when you go into someone’s house and you are asked “would you like a glass of water?” you should say “yes.” That way when you ask for a sum instead of twiddling your fingers while waiting for a response, to give yourself something to do “you can pick up your glass and take a long sip or water!” Also, keep in mind that listening is prudent; it is 75% of the work while the other 25% is you leading the conversation. By being an effective listener, you will be able to shape your proposal to better fit the donors’ interest and ethics, which will help you gain their trust. Hopefully this information helps you build the confidence to ask and helps you plan a successful fundraising. Good luck in your ventures!


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