Monday, March 16, 2009

Asking for Money in Tough Times

While it is difficult to ask for money in the best of times, soliciting donations in a terrible economy can be downright unnerving. Even businesses that you are used to going to for donations are facing layoffs and even bankruptcies. Where do you go when every stream seems to be dry? It is time for a little empathy, kindness and understanding. Here are some ideas that might help you to hang in there and keep the faith:
  • Be friendly. Being kind and friendly can really make a difference. People are looking for a ray of sunshine. You can be that ray. A little enthusiasm and a positive attitude can be charming. Though it may not convince a struggling individual to give cash, you just might develop a friendship with a potential volunteer. Since time equals money volunteers are worth their weight in gold.
  • Get some face time with your prospective donor. People always feel better giving to a cause when they have a personal relationship with the person asking for my donation. It is often preferable to ask for money in person. Dress nicely and always wear a smile.
  • Remind the potential donor that their gift is tax-deductible. In most cases, contributions are tax deductable to organizations that have 501(c)(3) status.
  • Sell the benefits of making a donation. If you are giving a reward for a donation, be sure to remind the potential donor what they will get in return for their donation. If they are getting special recognition or advertising in exchange, be sure to really talk it up.
  • Think thru possible incentives. Businesses are much more likely to make a donation if it would have a benefit to the donor’s business. For example, a local party store would be more likely to donate close to a holiday when the publicity could bring in additional business. Publicity is always a great exchange for a donation and is a win/win incentive.
  • Relationships count. If you visit businesses that have a potential benefit from a relationship with your organization you will have a better chance of success. A valuable favor in exchange for a donation provides a foundation for an ongoing partnership.

In difficult economic times everyone is a little more nervous, but history shows that people are still giving, albeit a little less generously, but they are still giving. What are some of your methods for asking for donations in a tough economy?