7 Tips on Asking for Donations

If you are one of the fortunate qualifiers for the 2015 HOSA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California, you are most likely up to your ears in fundraising. Selling candles, suckers and pizzas can get monotonous. Try asking for donations. It can prove far more efficient. 
 
When it comes to asking for donations, most of us head for the hills. It is intimidating to ask other people to part with their hard earned cash. They might ask, “Why?” And you might not have a great answer. At its heart, fundraising is helping others connect an existing passion directly to your cause. Think of it this way… it is not your job to convince donors. You help them realize that they already care.
 
Once donors believe that HOSA-Future Health Professionals truly matters, giving almost becomes an afterthought. Of course they will give! The question simply becomes how much should be the ask!
 
There is no need to sweat the “fundraising ask” if you follow these seven tips:
 
1. Research Your Donors
Research your donor as an individual. Be able to answer these questions if you want to get into a donor’s heart:

  • What kinds of words do they use? What do they talk about when they are feeling passionate?
  • What do they care about?
  • What are their common objections, fears and concerns about giving?

 
We have to address the fears and risks every donor feels, even if the donor cannot identify them out loud. And then, we get to connect their existing passions and desires with HOSA: Future Health Professionals.
 
2. Practice, Practice, PRACTICE – And Then Practice Some More
The best way to succeed at your donor visits and get more funds is to practice every aspect of your ask. In other words, by the time you are actually sitting in front of a prospect, you should have rehearsed the many paths the conversation could take many times before. Understanding your talking points, how you will graciously address common objections and the exact way you will frame your ask allows you to stop thinking about these things and just focus on talking with the donor. Practice your ask. Run through how you will call them on the phone. Plan on how to structure your meeting. Decide how long you will small talk at the beginning, and how to transition smoothly into the ask itself.
 
The key to this:

  • Practice out loud.
  • Then, practice in front of a mirror.
  • Then, record yourself on video practicing.

 
It is painful, but you will learn things about your delivery and be far more confident and free when it comes to actually making the ask.
 
3. Never, Ever Surprise Your Prospect
If your potential donor is ever surprised you are asking them for money, something is deeply amiss. Make it clear in your first call or contact that you are interested in talking to them about financially supporting you and how they might be able to get involved with HOSA-Future Health Professionals. Make it clear that, while you are interested in them as a person, there is a deeper purpose for your visit. That way, they will be able to prepare their response, objections and questions.
 
4. Be Passionate and Enthusiastic About HOSA
Your goal is to make your donor both catch your enthusiasm and feel understood. To get there, you need to let yourself be not-boring enough that they can have fun talking to you. Passion is contagious. Do not be afraid to convey your enthusiasm about HOSA-Future Health Professionals.
 
5. Ask for Advice – You’ll Usually End Up with Money
The old fundraising maxim applies here:
“Ask for money, you’ll get advice. Ask for advice, you’ll get money.”
What most people truly want is to be heard. They might have great input on how to better ask for HOSA support. Asking for advice means that they will freely tell you the secret thing they are most passionate about, as well as their biggest fears about giving. Most importantly, the donor will feel valued and important. Which they are! So ask them for their input and impressions. 
 
6. Your Secret Weapon is Pointed Silence
Our culture fears silence. We want to fill it. This is one reason why extroverted salespeople and fundraisers can do worse than introverts.
 
But often times, the most important, meaningful thing – the thing your prospect really wants to tell you – will not be said if you quickly fill the silence. Too many advice-givers say “just listen better!” but fail to tell you that means “do not talk and allow silence, even if it feels awkward at first.” 
 
This is a great leadership technique and works in discussions of all kinds – whether you are negotiating a contract, your wages, trying to understand your significant other or asking for a donation. Use strategic silence next time you talk with anyone. 
 
7. Ask for a Specific Amount (Don’t Make Your Donor Do Any Work)
Finally, always ask for a specific amount to contribute toward your HOSA event. Why is this important? Because it takes the burden off of the donor to figure out what size of a donation is necessary. They do not know anything about your conference expenses. You do. So help them out.
 
Asking for money is intimidating. It is also an immense privilege. You are inviting other people to take action in helping you pursue your goal as a future health professional! Most people genuinely care and want to help. See you in Anaheim!

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