Many faith-based organizations worry about making fundraising asks. They think that because they have a religious mission, making direct asks of donors is somehow unethical or will damage their reputation.
Other faith-based nonprofits focus solely on making group asks from the pulpit, or through mass-communication mediums like direct mail or e-mail. These organizations avoid making direct or face-to-face fundraising asks, usually because they don’t have experience with these types of conversations.
As someone who has worked with dozens of churches, schools, and other faith-based organizations, I can tell you that making direct, personal fundraising asks will not damage your religious mission and that these types of asks are absolutely crucial to the ongoing success of your nonprofit.
You Can Make Direct Fundraising Asks While Honoring Your Mission
Asking for money for your non-profit isn’t dirty, slimy, or unethical. Your church, school, or other faith-based charity does good work. You need money to continue to do good work. You need to fundraise. Without making asks, there is no fundraising, and without fundraising, you don’t get to continue carrying out your mission.
There’s nothing contradictory about making direct fundraising asks and working for a religious organization. Good fundraising is based on building relationships and casting a big vision for donors. Your non-profit has a big story to tell and is likely already focused on building relationships with supporters. Those factors will be big assets as you go out to make fundraising asks.
Why Making Asks is Crucial if You Want Your Nonprofit to Thrive
People want to give to your organization, but they are unlikely to do so unless they are asked. This is a key point that needs to be driven home for every organization: if you don’t make asks, people won’t write checks. Rare indeed is the situation where your nonprofit receives a sizeable donation from a person or company without first asking that person or company to donate. People want to give, but they won’t give unless you ask them.
Far too many nonprofits set up fundraising events or send out fundraising letters and hope for the best, without making any real face-to-face asks. Sending out invitations or fundraising appeal letters works, and can be an integral part of your fundraising strategy. But if you want to raise mid-level and major gifts for your organization, you will need to practice the art of one-on-one asks in person or on the phone.
Another major problem I see with nonprofits is the belief that because they are doing good work, if they just get their name out there, get brochures into the right hands, get a couple of good stories in the local paper, and spend some time at events and tours talking about how much money you need to keep operating, that the money will come rolling in. Nothing is further from the truth.
Asks are questions. Asks suggest specific amounts. Asks are just that… asks. People don’t give unless they are asked.