Stubbing our toes while making the ask

Where do nonprofits blow it when making the ask?

Kivi Leroux Miller thinks she knows. Writing in her blog, Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, she offers five ways nonprofits sabotage their fundraising efforts with “wimpy, confusing asks.”

Here is her list of blunders:

  • Assuming One Size Fits All. There is no such thing as the general public. Know your supporters, donors, participants or whoever you are talking to, and customize the way you ask for support to that group.  You should talk to your long-time volunteers differently than you talk to someone you just met. Your major donors have different expectations of you than someone who just clicked “like” on your Facebook page.
  • Being Too Vague. Don’t ask for “support” or “help” or use any of these other weak calls to action. People don’t know what you are asking for. Be specific.
  • Failing to Make It Relevant. What’s in it for them? Why should they care? What good will it do? You have to answer these questions or people won’t follow through.
  • Not Making It Super Easy to Do It. Put yourself in their shoes and walk through the exact process you are asking others to follow. How can you make it easier and faster? Is donating online super easy? Is getting the right person on the phone super easy? (Think nonprofits are pretty good at this? Think again.)
  • Asking Sheepishly. If you seem embarrassed or guilty when asking, that’s a clear sign to your volunteers or donors that they might feel embarrassed or guilty themselves by following through. Remember, asking is about giving people an opportunity, not about taking something away from them.
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