“I have tried raising money by asking for it, and by not asking for it. I always got more by asking for it.”

-Millard Fuller 

It’s hard to ask for a donation from your boss . . . especially when he’s a professional fundraiser. I was getting pledges for a walk-a-thon that my favorite nonprofit was hosting, and since I work at a firm that helps nonprofits with fundraising, I was supposed to be the Michael Phelps of raising money. However, I was afraid that if I failed “the ask,” my boss was going to demote me. So, I did what any self-respecting, junior staff member in a fundraising firm would do: I didn’t ask. A fail-proof strategy if you ask me! But, I missed out on a huge opportunity. I was too shy to ask.

Opportunities like this are missed a lot. As fundraisers, we have a lot of blindspots. Some, like me, are afraid of failure or rejection. Others make assumptions about people and prematurely write potential donors off the list. But, the one thing we should remember is that it is our job to invite the donor to make a gift. It’s their job to say “yes” or “no.” But so often, we don’t even give them the opportunity.

Obviously, you still want to consider the three prospecting factors of Affinity, Ability, & Access when considering whether a donor is a good prospect. If someone has zero interest in your organization or cause, no connection to you, and no real ability to give, you don’t want to ask them. But, if someone has moderate L and I’s, you may still want to give them the opportunity to donate. You’ll probably be surprised.

For instance, on a more positive note, I had made a new friend through a community play I was in. She had heard about the agency I was raising money for, and I thought, “Why not? I’ll ask her to sponsor me. The worst she could do is unfriend me on Facebook.”

And you know what? She DID sponsor me . . . for $500! I definitely baked her a chocolate cake (I find chocolate to be a solid new donor strategy).

So, all that to say, don’t answer for a donor. Give them the opportunity to say “yes” or “no.” It might be a surprising “yes”!


Are you saying “no” for your donors? Let Dickerson, Bakker & Associates help your staff and volunteers give donors the opportunity they deserve.  Contact us today.