Insights to Power Social Good

The Mind Blowingly Simple Way to Cook Up Massive Fundraising Success for Your Organization

Posted by Jonathan Bray on Mar 22, 2016 2:08:32 PM



We recently cooked up a conversation with one of our clients during a marketing strategy session and got their insight on a revelation of sorts...

"We saw giving was significantly higher in the fourth quarter." - They explained

"Why do you think that is? Perhaps seasonality of giving? #GivingTuesday?” - We returned with curiosity.

The Answer!

“Honestly, we just asked more.”

“We. Just. Asked.”

It’s pretty crazy  - how utterly simple it seems...but it’s still hard to actually do.

So there’s two parts baked into ‘The Ask’...

Number 1:

Actually saying the words. (Please help...We need your support...You can make a difference. It just takes one. It starts with you. Please donate today.’)


Number 2:

Optimizing your ask to better compel people to want to support your organization’s meaningful mission.  The Story...this is where you touch people’s heart, mind and soul!  You get the picture and super creative and compelling.

Oh yeah, Shhh...there is a Third…”Ask your Donors, Volunteers and Supports to share about your organization’s meaningful mission with their family, friends and colleagues”.  Trust really works!

Follow these two simple steps (well, three) and you'll be on your way to cooking up your own successful fundraising stew.

One Part: Communication

Let’s be clear. It is not easy to put yourself out there and ask someone for help… ask someone for financial assistance. You’re putting yourself in a seemingly vulnerable position.  Or possibly you think you are asking too much...too often.

Think about it, if you’re working for an organization on a mission you really believe in, that’s where your strength comes from. Your belief that what you do makes a difference and IS important.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

-William James

Too often we hear: we don’t want to over communicate with our donors, volunteers, and supporters. That’s now how they like to be communicated with.  

We live in a world that is constantly vying for our attention. So we’ve gotten really good at filtering things out that we’re not interested in. We also have the attention span of a goldfish.

Mmmmmmm… Goldfish…


Let’s be clear, you will have donors attrit from your email and mobile subscription list...if you’re communicating with your list with any effective frequency… you’re going to lose those people that aren’t interested in your cause. That’s great. Those people would eventually self select out anyway.

But the secret ingredient is you’re still able to communicate with the people who want your communications.

This is just mindblowing...Charities Lost 103 Donors for Every 100 They Gained in 2014, Says Study. We have to do a better job of staying in contact. And we have to turn to technology to help us out… we’re getting there.

You already know how to send an email...a text message… a tweet. Now it’s about actually communicating. Otherwise your donors will be distracted by a sea of media vying for their attention and turn to the next shiny object that catches their attention. Remember: these are humans behind all this technology.

So catch my heart, reel it in, and fast food it up!

Make me remember you with an emotionally compelling story or ask. I mean we need help. This child, today, only gets ONE meal a day. That’s real life. It’s unreasonable. It’s unfathomable. And it’s a solvable problem. (tweet this)

Think. About. That.

People need to hear about these things over the morning scone and strategies for global expansion and soaring profits.

So the way to start reducing that churn is by engaging your donors.

“Obvs mister blog writer man…”

Unpack that though a bit… how do you engage your donors? #buzzword #buzzword #hashbrown #buzzword.

Actually knowing what engages your donors has an implication of knowing them as people… or more appropriately knowing your target demographic or Donor Personas.

That’s why we talk so much about the Donor’s Journey and why that culminates in creating Donor Personas to cook up a collective understanding, organization wide so you can communicate effectively and post content to your digital universe that resonates with them.

Do your donors like the outdoors? Healthy living? Nutrition? Animals? What kinds of media do they like? Friday Night Lights or John Oliver? Both?

Answering questions like these help when engaging your donors between asks.

“What do you mean ‘between asks’, Chef Blog-ardee?”

Well that’s a cadence and frequency in communications question.

It’s not about asking all the time, it’s about creating a contextual relationship with your donors, staying in front of them with relevant communications then ASKING every so often.

A Solid Recipe is 3:1 content-to-ask ratio

Now, this recipe could use some dashes of TLC and your magic touch, but there’s certainly a stew in there.


It serves as a guideline that you’re engaging 3 times more than fundraising..That way, when you DO ask, they are more likely to read your message, understand the value you bring to the table, and are more likely to donate.

After a few cycles of executing the foundational boilerplate frequency of communication, you can look at the metrics, tweak your communication strategy from your learnings and start to test all kinds of different things.

Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation-- experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.

-Paul Theroux

There’s no such thing as over communication if your content is good and valuable. Get fun, be authentic, talk like you would to the audience. It’s OK. They want to hear about the good things you’re up to. :)

One Part: Delivering Better Asks

I once talked to a wise dude after a fundraising concert we played to raise funds for a music tour. As we were discussing fundraising he shared some wisdom and perspective to the ask process.

You have to stand there, in front of a person with humility and vulnerability and say ‘I believe in the work we’re doing. That’s why I have the courage to stand in front of you right now and ask for your financial support. And here’s why…’ and I know how hard it is to do that” - Wise Fundraising Dude

The first and most important step is to ASK. If you don’t ask you won’t get. So don’t read this part and get too in your head about it either. Because at the end of the day it’s a numbers game. Some people will just not want to support your cause right now. 

And that’s fine. They probably don’t understand, or have other priorities based on myriads of possible reasons for blah blah blah...

It’s fine.

These people are part of the crockpot of people who aren’t going to support your cause. Again, it’s a numbers game. So when you think too hard about the how, you might forget to cast a wider net… it’s about utility.

If you have a wide net and low engagement, invest in your content to drive better conversions. If no one knows about you… or not enough people know about you… go out... And talk to people.

Digitally and in the ‘Real World’

If you subscribe to the classic copywriting / marketing / sales formula of AIDA… and you should... you have a template of how to compel more giving.

Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.

If you just give someone a credit card form and say “Donate”, you’ll probably be looked at like a camel with a conscious.

If you grab their attention, interest them about your cause, make them desire / want to donate to you, then tell them exactly how they can and should take action... well then you got yet another stew goin’.

Copywriting is an art and can live in any medium… written or verbal. If you can stand in front of someone and give them a textbook AIDA Ask… they will want to donate to you… someone who wants to do something will spend more energy on that action.

So even if your UI/UX sucks on your website right now… they will probably still do what you tell them because they want to do it.

(of course the harmony of great UI/UX and a great compelling message goes together like lamb and tuna fish. Maybe you prefer spaghetti and meatballs, think that’s a better analogy?)


Leave us your thoughts! We want to hear your questions and happy to talk more about any of the topics.

You are awesome. And you are changing the world. Keep going. We’ll be here. :)

Bon Appétite.

- jb

P.S.  And don’t forget to thank your donors and supporters...there are lots of fun and creative ways to say ‘Thank you’! More on that later...

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Topics: Fundraising, Call-to-Action, Ask, AIDA, Donor's Journey

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