How to Successfully Ask for Contributions to Your Nonprofit

The key rule of fundraising is “If you don’t ask, you won’t get.” Taking the step of asking is critical, but so is knowing how to ask. According to marketing experts who study motivations for doing just about everything, people contribute to nonprofit organizations because they want to

  • Feel generous

  • Change the world

  • Exercise compassion

  • Have a sense of belonging to a group

  • Feel a sense of well-being, of safety

  • Be recognized

By understanding these underlying donor motivations, you can phrase your request in the most effective way. Appeals to new donors often ask them to “join” or “become part of” a movement or cause in order to touch upon the desire for belonging.

Appeals also call upon donors’ compassion and idealism, and they commonly link the needs of particular constituents served by a nonprofit to the well-being and security of an entire community. That’s making the most of asking.

When you find yourself hesitating to ask someone for a contribution, keep in mind that you’re not begging, you’re offering them an opportunity to be part of something worthwhile. Giving your organization a gift can make them feel good.

Many states and some local jurisdictions require organizations that solicit charitable contributions to file registration forms before soliciting. This registration is meant to protect the public from being solicited on behalf of illegitimate causes. The regulations differ from state to state. Typically, the rules don’t apply unless the nonprofit raises more than a minimum annual amount.

Check with your state’s attorney general’s office to be sure that your nonprofit is in compliance with all laws. It’s especially important to check local laws when thinking about raising money through bingo games and raffles. Laws regulating these activities often differ from county to county and city to city.

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