Why Is Asking For Donations So Uncomfortable?


You have a designated e-giving channel for your organization, you’ve created a stellar website detailing pertinent information about your organization, and you’ve even created a customized mobile app for your constituents to interact with you — so where are all your donors?

Whether it’s a fear of rejection, or simply the fact that talking about donations with potential givers is uncomfortable, the majority of nonprofit leaders dread ‘the ask’ for one reason or another. Rather than letting this apprehension color the process of interacting with your donors, embrace a new strategy that will play upon your communication strengths. Adhere to a few of the following examples to simplify your interactions with prospective donors and potentially increase affirmative responses when you get around to asking for contributions.

Don’t Surprise Them

As a general rule of thumb, a potential donor should never be thrown off guard when they’re approached for a financial contribution to your organization. Before anyone is approached, there should be some kind of connection made beforehand. Maybe they filled out the contact form on your website to receive your monthly email, or perhaps they’ve actively engaged with your social media profiles. Being open and honest about your intentions in your first contacts with an individual will make the giving process easier with them should they choose to engage. Creating a negative experience with the process of asking for donations will not bode well for your nonprofit’s relationship with this donor, as well as any donors you may reach out to in the future.

Keep It Engaging

We live in an age where all of our interactions – whether they be between people, or with some form of digital media – are expected to be stimulating. According to a 2013 study by National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a person is 8 seconds. This means that, in order to prompt potential donors to engage, nonprofit fundraisers have to try harder to keep their communications pertinent and attention grabbing. Provoke reactions from your audience by asking questions and inviting them to respond. In this way, you can pass your enthusiasm on to your audience.

Ask For Advice

Your donors are just as passionate about your cause as you are, and, in many cases, much of your nonprofit’s good work cannot be completed without them. Because your donors are so passionate about a cause, they often have their own ideas about how best to reach a particular goal. Take a moment to ask your donors for advice about how best to tackle a particular initiative. Not only will this simple act allow you to show your donors that they’re important to you, it will also help to create a dialogue about the reservations they may feel about giving.

Silence Is Golden

Though it may seem counterintuitive, one of the most powerful actions you can take when speaking to a potential donor is to not say anything. For many Americans, silence in a conversation is close to unbearable and we will find any way to fill that gap in a conversation. According to a 2011 study by dutch psychologist, Namkje Koudenburg, 4 seconds is all it takes for social anxiety to kick in after a lull in a conversation, and it is this uncomfortable feeling that will prompt your prospective donors to fill the gap. Simply ask a question and allow your donor the chance to respond. Taking the time to listen and analyze what a prospective donor is saying will afford you more insight into what pieces of your cause they’re passionate about, thus guiding your giving conversation.

Though asking prospective donors for contributions to your organization will never be a comfortable experience, it doesn’t need to be difficult, either. By utilizing a few of the above tips, you’ll be better able to engage your donor prospects and convert them into dedicated givers through your e-giving platform.