Year-end donor asks are popular in the non-profit world as a final push to meet revenue goals and to connect with donors, so you are on their minds when they’re looking at next year’s budget. There is no right or wrong way to do your year-end donor asks, but there are some things you can do to use this opportunity to strengthen the relationship you have with donors and get them excited about your plans for the coming year. Consider these elements to your non-profit’s year-end asks:
Share your successes with your donors so they can see how their money is being used. Talk about the mission of your non-profit, specifically:
Mark Phillips, who runs Blue Frog in London, studied the effect of the pandemic on non-profits. One thing that he noticed was when non-profits said they were struggling in their ask, their donations decreased. When they told their donors they were still serving, their donations increased. The psychology behind this is people want to be associated with winners, so you need to show your donors the wins you had this year.
Think mission-first when presenting these wins. Your donors won’t care if you painted the building; they want to hear about things related to your cause.
Another key thing to remember is to avoid negativity. Address world events or worries that your donors bring to you, but don’t talk about issues unless your donors have expressed concern. This just introduces unnecessary negativity into the conversation. The past few years have shown that economic events don’t affect fundraising; there were record levels of giving during the pandemic.
Remember that you are speaking to donors that span across different generations and personalities. Some of your donors will only read the first page of your materials and decide if they will donate or not based on that. Others may want to read detailed year-end reports. Ensure your materials work for both types of donors.
Older donors are likely to have presbyopia, a psychological condition that makes it difficult for them to focus. Make sure your board members understand this when they are talking to and designing materials for your donors. Specifically, certain fonts and colors are difficult for older donors to read, so seek input from older team members before approving materials for your organization.
Base your ask on what you are going to do. Set your giving amounts based on what you plan to do. When people know where their money is going, it connects their heartstrings to their wallets, because now that number represents the impact of their money.
Let’s say your non-profit sends kids away to camp, and it costs $1,000 per kid. When you ask your donors to give $2,000, you’re asking them to send 2 kids away to camp. Framing your ask in that way gives them an emotional connection to the donation they are making. You may even find donors saying they want to send 5 or more kids to camp because they’re no longer focused on the money, they’re focused on the kids they are helping.
These year-end donor asks don’t always need to be a formal ask. In many cases, you probably know your donors well, and they’re invested in your cause. Pick up the phone and have a conversation with your donors to talk about what you’ve done this year and your plans for next year. Consider how you would want to be asked if you were a donor.
Picking up the phone to make an ask will set you apart from everyone else, and that makes a huge impact on your donors. You will be surprised at the wins you get from phone calls. It makes your donors feel special, and therefore they want to support your organization. But most importantly, it is difficult to say no to someone over the phone. A donor may not be able to give you your full ask, but they’ll want to give something, so you’ll see a lot of success by having a conversation rather than sending a letter or email.
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