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To Ask or Not to Ask – That is the Question

Posted: April 13th 2020

covid 19 fundraising nonprofit women talking

The number one question we’ve heard fundraisers asking themselves right now in this era of COVID-19 is – “Should I still ask my donors for money?”

The short answer is: it depends.

Here’s your fundraising quiz to see which path is right for you and your organization:

  1. Have you defined what amount is considered a major gift for your organization?
  2. Have you spoken to your major donors within the last year?
  3. Have you done some type of stewardship with your donors within the last year?
  4. Do you have a relationship with some of your donors to know their interests and passion for your mission?
  5. Have you reached out to attendees of your gala/signature fundraising event(s) and spoken to them in person?
  6. Do you know the primary demographic of your donors?

If you answered YES to 3 or more of the above questions:

Yes! Call your donors and ask them to help your organization! Some of you may be getting push back from board members or others within your organization about asking donors for money right now. But if you have a relationship with many of your donors, or at least with your major donors, that means you have spent time stewarding and creating relationships with these people for exactly a time like this. These are the people who love you the most. They want to ensure that your organization is weathering this storm and here long into the future.

While it’s true that many people have lost their jobs and that we have record numbers of unemployment filings – there are many people who have not lost their jobs and are actually saving an incredible amount of money because they are staying put. They aren’t going out to eat, they’re not shopping as they used to and they are not taking a vacation. They have disposable income and they just need to be asked. Also remember – there is a tax incentive for anyone who is not itemizing on their taxes (many people) to donate up to $300 this year to help your organization. But make your communication personal. Give them a call (you have time). Check in on their well-being. Share with them the “state of the union” for your organization. Don’t forget to ask them if they would be willing to help. And always thank them!

If you answered NO to 3 or more of the above questions:

Right now we can’t recommend that you should be asking for money. What you can do is get on the phone and start calling your donors. Get to know them. Ask them about what makes them most passionate about what you do. Ask for their recommendation for what your organization can do now and into the future. And don’t’ stop there. Send them a thank you card. Call them again in August to let them know how you’re doing at that point in time. Set yourself up so that in eight months from now, when you need some additional funding to shore up your budget when you send out your annual appeal at the end of the year, those donors will remember that you called to get to know them and check on them during this strange time in all of our lives.

We hope that this information helps you make some informed decisions on what next steps you can take. Thank you for doing such wonderful work to support our community. Remember, we are all in this together.


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