Work Smarter, Not Harder: A Real World Guide to Fundraising

By | July 24, 2016


 Do you find yourself saying the following?

“I’m not good at sales.”

“There’s no way I can ask people for money.”

“I don’t want to annoy my friends.”

“Asking complete strangers for money makes me uncomfortable.”

If you’ve ever uttered any of these phrases, you’re not alone. Even the most successful fundraisers began their journey with excuses not to enter into the world of donation collecting than reasons to actually do it. And why shouldn’t they? It’s an intimidating undertaking  with absolutely no concept of what works and what doesn’t.

I remember the year that I was asked to participate in a walk-a-thon for our local Alzheimer’s Association. I was very excited to be asked to do this and to put together a team of others to walk and raise funds. My good intentions were there, but my follow through was a train wreck. I had no clue what to do. I didn’t want to ask my friends for money. What if they got mad at me? What if they thought I was using them? What kind of sales pitch would I use to approach a large company for funds? These people don’t know me. Why would they want to give me their money?

I finally decided to stop thinking about what I should do and just try doing it I would see what worked and what didn’t work. If the first approach didn’t work, I rethought my plan and tried again asking someone else.

I most definitely learned what NOT to do! I have learned over the years that fundraising is a continual learning curve and if anyone tells you differently, they have never raised funds or they are just plain wrong. Fundraising is a job and no job’s duties and/or requirements ever stay the same year after year. Technology changes and so do the tools available for fundraising. I’m not saying that I have all the answers, but I have done some things right and have used the following tips that I hope will help you.

I have listed a few tips below for nonprofit business fundraising and Peer to Peer fundraising. Simply asking for the donation because you are one awesome person, (while quite possibly true), isn’t going to make their wallets fall open. You have to give them a reason to want to give you their hard earned dollars. Today’s economy is tough. People are finding themselves with less extra funds due to the rise of fuel costs and other variables. Most people are trying to conserve every dollar they can. Your job is to convince  convince them that giving that dollar to your cause is more important than going to Starbuck’s that week. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It isn’t. But it can be done…you just have to commit to it, and by commit, I mean you must be on it consistently. You can’t be sporadic. You have to have a 30 second pitch (elevator speech) to get your message across. You need to have a message that is easy to understand and that will get the donor interested in your cause.

Social Media Is Your Friend

The key to using social media is to utilize your organization’s website. Once you sign up to raise funds, you can go to and create a fundraising page for free. USE IT! People are all about convenience and there is nothing more convenient than clicking on a link and entering a donation.  Pick a day (usually Fridays are the best due to it normally being a payday) and be consistent with posting a donation status message. The next paragraph will give you some examples of how to create the message update

The Real World

People are more likely to donate to a cause that they can relate to, or touches them emotionally. Say you are surfing through your news-feed status on Facebook and you see two new statuses from two different friends. One is from “Sue”. Sue is walking for the Heart Walk. Her status reads, “Walking in next week’s American Heart Association Walk. If you would like to, please donate here…” The other is from “Mary”. Mary is walking for the Race for a Cure. Her status reads, “Last year this time, my sister walked with me, with 500 other breast cancer survivors. While she’s not beside me this year, I know she’s above me. Please help me honor her and so many others who lost their fight and those that continue to fight. Follow this link to remember Jane…” Which one would YOU be more likely to donate to? I think that is a pretty easy question to answer.

Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Definitely send an email campaign. Be prepared that many people may not read it and delete it. Unless, the email holds a compelling “ask” and looks professional. At, we provide you with templates where you can create the look and wording that you want for Peer to Peer fundraising. However; as great as it is, don’t just rely on social media. Write your request in a, hand written note and include a self addressed stamped envelope. It is hard for people to resist opening a hand written note. Plus, you’ve included a stamped envelope, so it would be pretty hard for them to not at least mail something back to you…..and if they don’t….then the cause that you are for is not something that are interesting in donation to. Don’t feel rejected, just move on.

Stir The Pot

Stirring the pot is not meant to be argumentative. A little friendly competition is healthy for the soul and lucrative to fundraising. When raising funds give yourself a challenge and work to beat your challenge of dollars raised. Don’t use the phrase “Please donate.” This phrase is open ended and allows a person time to think, “oh, I still have time, next week.” However, “Please donate by 11pm or I will have to wash my husband/wife/son’s car for a month. Humor and something catchy will get you some dollars you never thought were possible.

Never Give Up

Not everyone you talk to is going to have your vision for the cause you are fundraising for. Don’t take a “no” as rejection. Instead, look at how you asked and see if there is anything you could have said differently. Also, remember that fear is not a reason to not ask for a donation. A very wise person once said to me “Remember, you are not the conscience of someone’s wallet.” That really changed things for me and allowed me to realize that I can’t assume someone will give or will not give. My job is to “ask.”

I wish you all the best as you fund raise for whatever worthy cause it is. Take advantage of the Fundraising Tool and start creating your fundraising page today for free.

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