The Key to Increasing Donations for Your Nonprofit

You Won’t Know Unless You Ask…

While it is likely that your staff members and volunteers are passionate about the work they do for your nonprofit organization, statistics show that most of them would admit that their greatest weakness is in regards to fundraising. Even with 70% of American families making donations, we are still afraid to ask for financial support. Why is this? While the fears may be real, they are unfounded. Let’s examine a few of the most commonly given reasons and compare them against what is actually true.


Reason: “I don’t want people to think I’m taking advantage of them.”

Truth: People don’t feel taken advantage of when legitimate organizations ask for donations. They understand that it takes collaboration and a group effort to solve the bigger issues, and that an organization can’t make a difference without the support of many individuals. While this doesn’t always translate into making a donation – we can at least give them the option.


Reason: “I don’t know anyone who has money to spare.”

Truth: Some of the seemingly richest people are in fact the poorest. I know of one couple who drives luxury cars, lives in a huge beautiful home and has a second home in Hawaii. You’d likely look at them and think: ‘Now there goes a big donor!”. However in reality their huge beautiful home is close to foreclosure and they are in tens of thousands of dollars in debt. While others like Nick Beckstead, Mark Lee and Tim Campbell – all graduate students at Rutgers University, each earning less than $20,000 a year is giving all of their income after living expenses to charity until they graduate. What’s more, they’ve each committed to give 10% after that until retirement. Rather than assuming you know how much money someone has, or asking yourself if you know anyone who has money to spare; a better question is, ‘Do I know anyone who gives’.


Reason: “I don’t want to irritate my friends and family with requests for money.”

Truth: If you were to take a poll asking people if they are offended when a friend or family member asks them to donate to their charity, 98% of them would say not at all. Does this mean that they always give? No. But you won’t know unless you ask.

The bottom line is that you’re going to hear the word ‘no’ much more often than you hear the word ‘yes’. But everyone knows that fundraising is a numbers game. The more you ask the more yes’s you’ll get. Say it with me, “Show me the money!”… Okay – so that may not be the answer to your problem. But here are some tips to help you overcome your fears of asking for money.

  1. Realize that it’s not personal. People chose not to give for various reasons, but it almost never has to do with the person asking. When someone tells you no, drop the money part of the conversation for a while and just try to foster an ongoing relationship. Eventually they may change their mind.
  2. When asking for a donation – give the person permission to say no. You may say something to the effect of, “I’m really excited about the impact our nonprofit is making.” Give examples and real-life stories and then conclude, “If you want to help we could really use your support. But if you can’t right now I completely understand – no hard feelings.”
  3. Understand the Components of Fundraising. The two components of fundraising are: 1: The asker (you) – the one asking for a donation; and 2: The decider – the one who either does or does not choose to contribute. That’s it. There’s no like or dislike, hidden agendas or irritation – simply a question asked and answered.

There are people all around you who regularly give. Don’t assume they wouldn’t be interested in your cause, and most of all – don’t be afraid to simply ask.