As we come into the home stretch for year-end giving I believe it’s worth reminding all those who work for charitable organizations that it’s never too late—to ask. It is a true irony of philanthropy that the number one anxiety-producing event for a volunteer or even development officer is actually asking for a gift. And yet, the research shows over and over again that not asking is one of the top reasons donors don’t give.
I can hear the pundits now. “Asking too much, research always shows, is the number one negative for donors.” Yes it is. So how do these seemingly incompatible bits of data get reconciled? When you know your donors, you’ll know when and how to ask. Hmmmm. . .
Principle 4 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is “Learn & Plan.” That is to say, first learn who your supporters and would be-supporters are and then plan how and when to approach them. Way too often, solicitation methods, timing and even the content—the reason to give—is driven by an agenda or needs of the organization. But we do have needs, urgent needs, you say. True enough. It is one of those paradoxes of life, however, that by seeking first to understand and satisfy the needs of others—in this case your supporters—you will in turn have your own needs satisfied.
So, let me sum up by saying that there is definitely not enough asking. Not enough asking that is tied to donor needs and aspirations as well as organizational purposes and goals, that is. It’s not tough to do; it just takes a different paradigm and then acting on that perspective consistently year after year. You’ll wonder what you ever did without it.