Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Philosophy and the “Art of the Ask”: How to increase financial donations

The old days of placing an envelope on the table at your charity fundraising event or passing around a basket, called “Passing the Hat” are long gone.  In fact, if you did that today, you would find 98% of the envelopes empty.

So how do you get people to donate money and more importantly, large sums of money?  This is a two-pronged strategy and approach.  But first we must understand that society today has changed to a “What will you do for me?” mentality.

In order to get more sponsors and to entice more people to donate, we first must understand this:

#1 - Companies will donate or invest in exchange for advertisement.  The more advertisement they receive, the more they will donate or sponsor.

#2 – Donors, that is people who will or could make large donations, they too want something for their donations.  What do these people want you ask?  To be noticed or have their few seconds in the spotlight.

Understanding the philosophy above is half the battle or the way to uncover the “Secret” to get more sponsors and entice more people to donate.  Here is the other half – the “Art of the Ask.”

Before I tell you or describe the “Art of the Ask”, you have to recall the “Old Ways” of getting financial donations.  Sending out hundreds of mailers or by getting on the phone and cold calling a long list of possible supporters.  Then getting into a lengthy conversation with them about why you need their hard-earned money which inevitably ends up as a “Telemarketer” approach.

Recently, I saw that a friend who is very affluent attended a charity fundraiser.  Knowing he is wealthy, I asked him how much he donated to the cause, he responded was “Nothing.”  When I asked why, he said “Because no one asked us to donate.”  He further went on to say that after looking at everything they had to offer in the silent and live auction, nothing appealed to him so he didn’t bid on anything either.

The fact that no one asked to donate is a simplistic and ironic with the argument being “He should have donated on his own without being asked.”  Today, everyone wants to be appreciated and to be thanked.  When you place yourself at a higher importance than your donors, that is a sure sign you are simply out of touch.

“The Art of the Ask” – Wouldn’t you agree that this is a “What are you going to do for me” society?  Absolutely it is.  Both donors and sponsors need to know there is value in their donations.  What does value mean?  Simply put – what do they get for their donation.  That’s not a question, it’s a statement.  We have already addressed why sponsors donate funds, however we briefly touched on why people donate.

Before you burn me at the stake…yes absolutely, people donate to help the mission of your charity, you’re right.  However, from my 25 years of experience raising 100’s of millions of dollars for charities – we now know and understand the power of simply asking them for a donation.  You cannot, let me say that again…you can not just expect it, you have to work for it.

To answer your question “What should we do?” or “How do we do it?”  First you must hire a professional.  Having “Bob the Weatherman” or “Sam the local politician” who does a great job acting like an auctioneer simply won’t cut it.  If you’re getting surgery, would you ask the same people to cut into your skin?  Absolutely not.  Isn’t raising the maximum amount of funds the goal of the fundraiser? You need a professional to get this done.

Whether you hire us, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising, or you hire one of the many professional charity auctioneers across the United States, make sure you have a professional do this.  That in and of itself is the most important aspect here and the reason is, they understand the mechanics of how to ask, when to ask and how to do it successfully.

People at your fundraising event will absolutely donate – BUT – they want to be asked and they want to be placed in the spotlight when they do.  It’s called “Pea Cocking” or “Show Boating.”  You may not like that or agree, but it's reality.  They want others to see them donating and love her applause when they do.  Plus, they may want to donate to impress someone else in the crowd.  As an example, one of your board members is someone of importance in your community.  Another guest in the crowd wants to do business with them so they will make a healthy donation simply to attract the attention of your board member.

This “Ask” is also referred to as the “Fund a Need” or “Paddle Raise.”  You would be amazed at how incredibly successful this is.  We have raised as much as 1.8 million dollars at one event simply by asking.  But if you do not know what to do or how to do it, consult the advice of a professional.

The “Art of the Ask” is an art because it has to appeal to your guests and not be a “Beg” instead of an “Ask.”  Your guests can’t feel like you are putting them on the spot, they won’t react.

If we can help you understand and successfully accomplish the “Art of the Ask”, contact us at  BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is the Premier charity fundraising company in North America in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  What does a charity fundraising “One Stop Shop” mean?  We have everything you could possibly need and want all in one location, staffed by the nation’s foremost experts in charity fundraising.  Give us a call, we would love to help you.  You can reach us at 443.206.6121.  Call anytime, we are here to help you.

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