12 Tips for Anxiety Free Donation Requests

Dais in a dark room with spotlights on it as well as the title "Anxiet Free Donation Request Tips"

The fear, the anxiety, the intimidation of asking for donations is a common and very debilitating problem. The fear of public speaking, known as glossophobia in psychology, is estimated to affect up to 75% of people. Line up any randomly selected group of 10 people and 7 to 8 people in every group will have some level fear of performing in public. Take this information to heart if you feel like this because you are definitely in the majority.

Don’t Be Scared of Rejection

Rejection is something, I’m sure, all you have dealt with at one point, and it hurts whether we admit it or not. Yet, you are still around and kicking! Life went on. Taking risks leads you to be able to dip your toes in a little further next time. Consequently, the nonprofit sector, like the rest of life, is full of rejection, whether it’s from donors, government bodies, etc., but as you know, it is a numbers game. The more you put out into the world, the more you get back. Now, I am no better at following this advice than the next person, but the first step is admitting you have a problem. Right?    

It’s All About the Connections

Some say networking is how you accomplish anything of meaning, and they are pretty much right. Now you might be asking yourself, “I don’t have a Rolodex of names, where do I even start?”     

Research Potential Donors

In this day and age we have a world of information at our fingertips. Use internet searches as well as sending out internet-based surveys to start out your research. There are great free tools like LinkedIn and Facebook to get an idea of whether or not they are a match for your organizations. You can go as far as finding out things like their interests and such to understand what makes them tick.

Practice Makes Perfect

Rehearse your talking points until they are second nature; you will be sick of it at the end. However, knowing your spiel backwards and forwards lets you be more natural during a conversation. There will be no need for notecards, or reading off of the PowerPoint slides. You are now able to think on your feet and react as you notice how your listener reacts to what you are saying.

Of paramount importance is practicing it out loud until you are comfortable saying every word. Record yourself as well; pro athletes record themselves during workouts as well as on game day. They are forever looking for the smallest of things they can change to get 100% out of their performance. What you are doing is the same thing. Look for things like nervous body language that you might subconsciously be using. Use co-workers, friends and family as sounding boards as they can tell you how it looks to a 3rd party. 

Go over scenarios and plan every detail of the conversation with a donor. How long should the meeting take to cover everything? How will you transition from small talk to the meat of the ask? What type of questions might the donor have? Any question you come up with now will be one less curveball that can potentially get thrown your way.

The Start of a New Relationship   

Personability

Put a personalized touch on every contact you make with a donor. For example, many organizations have a cookie cutter speech to give to donors. By having something made for everyone, you end up getting through to no one. Make the donor feel special, because they are. They play a major role in your mission being accomplished. Let them know that! 

Authenticity

Be personal and honest with donors. People can tell when someone is not being straight forward. A great way to connect with donors is a genuine personal storie. Do not beat around the bush; be direct and specific with what you are trying to get across. 

Initiating Contact

Inevitably you are going to end up having to do “cold calls.” Asking for donations during a cold call will not result in donations, most of the time. As a general rule of thumb, people do not like surprises.

Now is the time to be building trust and rapport. It is best to start with simple things like explaining your mission and seeing how the donor thinks how they might be able to get involved. Putting in the time now will turn into a beneficial relationship down the road. A repeat donor is worth way more than a one-time donor.

Think about it: if your friend called you up and said they needed some help, you would probably do it in a heartbeat or at least hear them out. This is like any relationship; you are in the “getting to know you phase”. After some time, small talk will be easy and the donor will be offering help before you even ask. 

Be Engaging and Inspirational

Would you be engaged by a person who has their head buried in their notecards and who never makes eye contact? Of course not! That person does not have the aura of being the expert on the mission they are trying to get help with. Remember, you are the authority on this topic compared to the donor. Show confidence in your mission and stay away from the comfort zone “rabbit hole” of just trying to get it done and over with. Your energy is a subconscious signal to donors that makes them want to be on the same level. 

How to be Engaging

Ultimately, your pitch is about the donor. Period! Let the donor know the value they bring to the table, directly not indirectly. For example, funds raised will go directly to assisting a specific thing and not into general organizational funds. Make sure to ask questions that will help them understand the issue. A good question would be, what do you think the greatest contributing factor is to heart disease? Not only are you directly engaging them and making your pitch an active back and forth, you are also leading donors to the conclusion to help on their own.

Silence is Magic, Sometimes

Humans do not like awkward silence; they fill it as soon as possible. Use this to your advantage. The  most obvious way to implement silence is to not answer your own questions. You will get further if the donor works out the issue themselves. They will have a light bulb moment, which is more impactful than being told why they need to care. By processing the information you gave the donor, they not have just a knee-jerk reaction.

Urgency

Your job is to get donors to realize that they already care and that their action is needed now instead of later. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. This old saying directly affects organizations when asking for donations; help given by a donor might benefit themselves greatly, but if they do not see that then no one is going to convince them. Side note: Stop yourself from using any phrases that have negative aspects as much as possible, as this can feel like you are blaming the donor when you are not.

Specificity

Have something you are asking for specifically when it is time to ask. Don’t give the old “what ever you can give” line. Give the exact action that is needed and let the donor counter with what they are able to do. They will definitely let you know if they would rather give something else than what you are asking for. This also goes for giving donors long lists of things you need donated. If you are soliciting a grocery store then a list of items can be more acceptable, but if you are requesting donations from a gym, a gift membership is a more reasonable ask. This all goes back to personalization and showing that you took the time and did your homework.

Always Send Thank-Yous

The donation being in-hand is not the end. A thank-you is another personal touch that can go a long way. Personally, I would say it is a MUST DO. Not enough people say thank you in the world making you stand out in the crowd of fundraising organizations.

Even if you are rejected by a potential donor, you are letting them know that you think their time is valuable and leaving communication open with them for the future. Basically, no hard feelings and maybe we can be friends.

Pro tip: This is networking, even if they say no to a donation. Maybe they have a friend of a friend who has been personally affected by what your mission is helping alleviate, or even, this fiscal year was not as good for the donor and in the future they may be willing to help out. 

One last Jewel of Wisdom

Go to them, don’t make them come to you.

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Ultimate Donations streamlines the often convoluted task of planning fundraisers and charity events by guiding you to discover donors more rapidly and effectively. If you have requested donations previously, you might be all to familiar with how tiring and time-consuming examining potential donors can be. Ultimate Donations has done a significant part of the research into who is most likely to donate to your organization. If you want a particular donation, we have the data on what is available.