What To Do When You Don’t Feel Comforable with an ‘Ask’


by Marie Palacios

Many times, I sit around board tables with non-profit board members and staff as they deliberate about their fundraising woes. Everyone in the room is usually quite happy to explore grant options, toss around event ideas, or share what another group has done successfully.

However, when the topic focus shifts to “increasing contributions by local individuals” the room fills with uncomfortable silence. To be quite honest, most people simply do not feel comfortable asking friends, family, or strangers for money.

The elephant in the room continues to be the “Individual ASK.” Everyone knows it’s important, but no one wants to do it. I challenge each of you to share the following quick facts with your organization and begin changing the dialogue.

The following data from the 2017 USA Giving report reflect that INDIVIDUALS truly do hold the purse strings:

  1. In 2016 more than $390.05 BILLION was contributed to charities in the USA and 72% of those funds were donated by INDIVIDUALS.
  2. For only the sixth time in the last 40 years, all major 9 philanthropy subsectors realized giving increases.
  3. The single largest contributor to the growth in total giving was an increase of $10.53 billion in giving by individuals.

While grants can provide critical support, it is important to remind organizations that no “healthy” non-profit should ever be more than 30% dependent on grants to cover general operating expenses.
It is time to change the dialogue. The following talking points are helpful starting topics for organizations:

  1. What does the future of our community look like without our organization? (Paint a picture. It might be dark, that’s the point!)
  2. What could our community look like if our organization has the support it needs to accomplish our mission? (Paint a picture…color it with all the possibilities!)
  3. Remind the board, staff, and volunteers that they are not “begging” or “asking” for money…they are inviting individuals to become part of a solution.

At the end of the day, an “ASK” is quite simply put an “INVITATION.” It is important to remember why your organization exists. Put a face on your programs. Chances are that face will remind the members of your community of a neighbor, a loved one, or themselves. Once your mission becomes personal, individuals can and do give!

For a more complete and illustrative version of the statistics included in today’s blog visit: 
https://givingusa.org/see-the-numbers-giving-usa-2017-infographic/