Written by Collective member Lucy Roberts
As fundraisers, we are competing for funds, showcasing work, changing perspectives and trying to start, grow or develop projects for social good. Plates are spun and priorities compete. We are trying to create a more equitable world, but to do that we usually need to ask for something from someone. This doesn’t always come as easily to us as we would like, especially if fundraising is something you have to do alongside a dozen other responsibilities.
Whether your audience is a corporate partner, a foundation or a major donor, ultimately you are influencing a human to part with something. Humans are complex so it can take some agility and flexibility to understand and really find 'your' fit with funders' values.
In my fundraising roles both in my day job as a Head of Fundraising and my consultancy work for the wonderful Fair Development, I have been fortunate to work on and see many different fundraising campaigns and strategies. The common themes that have led to success have informed these key questions that I hope you find useful to ask yourself when getting ready to 'make the ask'.
Put yourself in the funders shoes and ask yourself these five questions. (They might help you see things from their perspective and make an impactful ask)
1 - How likely is this to work? Here you can tell the funder about the impact of your work so far, your expertise, who it has reached and what quantitative and qualitative feedback you have gained.
2 - Why are you best placed to deliver this? Here it's about ensuring donor money is in safe hands, why are you the best people to deliver this work, how many times have you done this before and what have you learned?
3 - How will I be involved? This is where having a good understanding of the funders needs can really come through in your ask. Do they want to be strategically linked i.e. work together to influence policy or do they want to learn about something new? Do they want to be hands on and perhaps volunteer their time? Make your ask unique to the person or organisation you're asking.
4 - Why do you need my/our support? As humans we want to be valued as individuals, so make it really clear why it is them you have approached and why their money or resources specifically would make a big difference.
5 - How will I feel? This is a really key one, how will the funder feel after they have supported your cause? How close is this mission to their personal life experience and what will make them feel good about the support they have provided? How will you keep them in the loop and maintain that great feeling of doing good once the donation has been made?
If you're waiting to make the ask with a potential donor and you can confidently answer these questions, then take a deep breath and go for it - make the ask. Keep it confident, clear and simple and it might just have a big impact!
I pinch myself sometimes that I get to work with such amazing charities as a fundraiser, it’s a real passion. If you're worried about making the ask with a potential supporter, feel free to reach out to me for some free advice, I'd be happy to help.