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Guest Post: Top Tips for Shaking People Down for the Cause

April 24, 2013

Andrea Greer is one of our top Houston fundraisers and blogs at nonsequiteuse. She wrote a helpful list to help bowlers reach, and exceed their goals.  She allowed us to cross-post this from her blog.

Thanks to the internet, we’re all fundraisers now. How can you stand out and make sure you bring in the big bucks?

Sisterhood Bowls Well

Here are some of the things I kept in mind while I rolled past my fundraising goal for this year’s Lilith Fund Bowl-a-Thon:

1. Give the first gift.
If you don’t believe in what you are doing enough to put your own cash on the line, why should anyone else? Not everyone likes to go first, and people are more likely to give once the pump has been primed, so put your money down at the start.

2. It’s about joy.
If you’re doing this for a cause, you are offering people the chance to invest in something they will enjoy supporting. They might believe in the cause and take joy in advancing it. They might believe in YOU, take joy in supporting you, and care nothing about the cause. Remember, you aren’t forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. You’re creating an opportunity for them to feel great about taking part in something larger than themselves. Don’t be shy about creating opportunities for joy!

3. Ask early and often.
If you are using passive measures, like Facebook and Twitter posts, make sure you post often enough, and early enough, that people who check in at different times of day or on different days will see your messages. (If you wait until the last minute,  signal to people that you’re only going to be blanketing the airwaves only for the next 48 hours. Tell them you’ll stop posting and pinging once you hit your goal.)

4. Make’m say no to your face.
It is easy to ignore someone’s Facebook status. You can throw away a letter that comes in the mail. It is harder, however, to say no to someone when they call you on the phone to ask for help. And it is really hard to say no to someone’s face. If you are striking out in your passive asks and mass appeals, try asking people one on one. It may be hard, but you believe in what you are doing, right?

5. Don’t take no personally.
Well, I guess you can take it personally if someone says they would have given except for the fact that it is you asking. But otherwise, remember, it isn’t about you. The timing may not be right, or the cause may not be one that interests the person. Some highly organized people have a budget and stick to it, so they can’t accommodate your request.

6. Offer incentives IF you can do so without creating havoc.
Heed the example of Kickstarter—don’t offer an incentive that will cost you more (in time or money) to fulfill than you can handle.

7. You don’t need to offer incentives.
Don’t think that people are really going to give because of your incentive. Think about it. If you really needed a coffee mug or tote bag, you’d buy one. You wouldn’t wait for the public radio pledge drive. Sure, 1 time in 100, someone is giving for the incentive, and it can be a nice touch, but people give because they care about you and they care about the cause.

8. Say thank you.
As I type that, I am terrified that I did not acknowledge all of the donors to my most recent fundraising project. A quick thank you via email, a shout-out on Twitter, whatever form it takes, get on it. It makes the person feel appreciated, and it reminds other people that they, too, could give.

9. Make it easy for people to give.
Create a short-link to your fundraising page. Print some cards with your name & pitch & short-link that you can hand out to people when you talk to them about it. Have the page book-marked on your iPad so someone can give right then & there while you’re talking about it. Don’t make people hunt for the details.

10. Offer other ways to help.
If someone tells you they’d like to donate, but can’t, ask if they might post a link on their Facebook page, or RT you, or hand out your cards. Who knows who they know that you don’t?