Back in October, fundraisers around the world gathered virtually for the two-day Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. As we continued to work in uncharted territory, every speaker sparked new ideas on ways to end this year strongly and begin the new year energized.
Steven Screen’s perspective on asking donors for gifts really stuck with me after the conference: “Asking is a form of stewardship.”
When developing annual fundraising calendars, we make an effort to m an appropriate balance of solicitation and stewardship touches with our donors. The two have always been separate in my mind, but Screen connecting the two made me look at them differently. Donors want to be asked for help. They are passionate about your organization’s mission and the work being done, so they want to be part of making a difference.
We tend to let our fear of drowning donors in too many appeals and communications lead us to ask less. But we should always be sending the message to our donors that they are needed. Screen helped us think of giving as a river, not a pond. We tend to sit in front of donors and reach in every now and then and pull out what we can. Instead, we should think of it as a river – by consistently flowing giving opportunities past donors, they will give more often and in turn increase retention rates.
It doesn’t always need to be a hard ask, but donors should always feel like they are needed. Even if a donor is not able to give at that moment, they will still feel good knowing that you asked for their support. By not asking donors for their help, we’re sending the message that they’re not needed. Giving is a generous act, and we don’t want to rob our donors of the opportunity to do something generous.
-By Hannah Summers