Quick and Easy Tips for Fundraising Success #2

Image: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Welcome to the second installment of “Quick and Easy Tips for Fundraising Success,” a series of posts that provides quick and easy tips you can use right away to fine-tune your fundraising program. (You can review the first post in the series here.) 

Today’s tip: Ask for advice

Do you ever struggle with scheduling donor cultivation meetings? It’s useful to know that the very best, almost-never-fails way to get a meeting on your calendar is to ask your donor for their advice. People love sharing advice and as a result they’ll WANT to meet with you.

True story: A small nonprofit (let’s call it Music Program for All) has been struggling to cultivate individual donors. The organization is an amazing afterschool music program for low-income students ages 5-13. The organization’s executive director has repeatedly invited donors to tour the schools and see the program in action. 

But donors are busy. They don’t return calls. They don’t reply to emails. Sound familiar?

This week, the executive director chose the top four donors she’s been trying to connect with. She emailed each of them, asking their advice about a leadership-giving program and within 12 hours had heard back from 3 of the 4 donors she emailed. Here are their exact responses:

  • Of course I would love to help.
  • I am happy to meet with you! My only condition is that you allow me to treat you!
  • Joyce and I would be happy to visit with you.

Wow. And these are all donors the executive director had previously invited to visit the program with no response.

You may be thinking, “But will asking a donor for advice make me seem incompetent?” Actually the opposite is true. Check out this article from Scientific American. Research shows asking for advice makes you appear smarter to those from whom you seek advice. 

What did this magical email say – the one sent by the executive director of the music program? Here it is word-for-word. Steal it, borrow it, tweak it to suit your situation, but definitely use it. It works! 

Sample email

Dear (donor’s name),
I hope you are having a nice summer so far.
I'm writing, frankly, to seek your advice! The Music Program for All board is kicking around some ideas for a leadership-giving program and it would be helpful to our young organization to hear your thoughts on this. If you're interested, maybe we could arrange coffee or lunch? 
By the way, our summer program is going gangbusters. I think you know that we're at Cooper Elementary due to construction at our home schools. Two more sessions still ahead!
Please let me know if you'd like to get together. Happy to come to a location convenient for you.
Best regards,
(executive director’s name)

Do you have experience asking your donors for advice? Please share in the Comments box below - your fellow fundraisers thank you!

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click).