Funds are short, and you need to start moving forward with a large project before a certain date. You have a donor who has contributed thousands of dollars in the past, but could easily give more—and you need a lot more. But how do you ask for a donation of that amount? Asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars can be daunting, and the stress of the situation only increases with your dire need for funding. There is both a fear of failure and a fear of appearing overbold. What do you do?
Here’s how to ask for a big nonprofit donation:
Gather and Analyze Information
The first thing you should do is to get with the board and development director to put together some facts. Research and analyze everything there is to know about this donor. Specifically, answer the following questions:
- What is their donation history?
- How much have they donated in the past and to whom?
- What has your past interaction with this donor been?
- What factors motivated them to donate to you?
- What political causes have they supported in the past?
Once you gather as much data as possible, analyze it and highlight any interesting areas. Use this to determine how you will approach them and how much you will be able to ask. Be optimistic about this.
Make a Powerful Pitch
Once you have the information together, it’s time to plan your pitch. Ideally, your donor should either have goose bumps or be in inspiration-driven tears—or both—by the end. In your plan, be sure to include:
- Who will be there: You want to showcase your team as well as include anyone who has a connection with the donor. Be careful not to outnumber them by more than 3 to 1, though.
- What stories you should share: One powerful tactic you can use to inspire the donor is to show how their past contributions have helped your cause. Go beyond merely telling them what happened by making it real with personal, individual-level stories.
- How you will express your need: It may be a little sneaky, but overstating your goals can help you get the amount you need. For example, if you need the donor to contribute $100,000 toward a goal of $150,000, stating your goal as $25,000 can encourage them toward making the contribution. Also describe what the funds will be used to accomplish and why it is so important.
- Who will ask: Who should ask should be based on the relationship your donor has with the organization.
Remember to be bold throughout the pitch. Bravery is inspiring, and when you are brave for your cause, you show your donor that your organization is worth giving to. You’ll not only further your cause, but also gain the admiration of your donor and make future asks much easier.
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