Should I ask for a specific dollar amount?
Asking for money can sometimes feel a bit scary and because of this we tend to do things that diminish the power of our ask. Here are a few errors that are often made when making an ask followed up by some tips to help set you on the right track.
Some Frequently Made Mistakes on Making the Ask:
*Taking the total amount needed and dividing it by the number of parishioners.
This method goes something like this, “The total cost to fix our HVAC is $5,000 we just need $50 from 100 families. This approach can do a couple of things. It puts everyone in the same giving level. It might be a stretch for one family to make a $50 donation, but the family sitting next to them in the pew, might have $100,000 in extra cash and you just told them to donate $50!
*Not making an ask.
This might go something like this, “We need to raise $5,000 to fix the HVAC. It’s broken, and we are going to be really hot this summer if we do not fix it.
This approach is not even really an approach. Do your potential donors realize you are asking them for money? They might be thinking you are going to have a fundraiser dinner, or you are going to ask someone else for the money.
*Not being clear with how much money is really needed.
Our HVAC system is broken, can you help fix it by making a donation to our maintenance fund? This approach does have a very soft ask, but the parishioner may not understand the cost of making a repair on the HVAC system. They might think, I fixed my HVAC last summer at my house for $800, so I will give money to cover that, not realizing the true cost is $5,000!
These common scenarios can be avoided. Asking for money is not always easy, but with a few simple tips, you can increase your success in funding your parish needs.
Tip #1 Make it personal
People give to people. Make sure you personalize your ask. If you write a letter, include the parishioners' names, as you would call them (for instance, Sue and Bob instead of Susan and Robert or Mr. and Mrs. Smith.) As an added touch, write a heartfelt note at the bottom of the page. You will find success when the donor feels personally connect to you and the project.
Tip #2 Be clear about your needs
Donors want to know the true cost. If you are raising money for a repair, have the estimate ready and put the real numbers in the ask letter. As an example, “ABC company is going to repair the HVAC. The estimated cost is $5,435. They will be repairing the exhaust pump that is short cycling and causing the equipment to turn off early. In order to repair the equipment we will pull $435 from our maintenance fund and the remaining $5,000 will need to be raised by our parishioners."
Tip #3 Ask for a specific amount
The first part of making an ask is research. How much do you think they can give? Take a look at their past giving, their job, how they live. Channel your inner detective. Your Regional Director has access to a few tools that can help you do in depth, quality prospect research. Just reach out for help!
After you have an ask amount established its time to reach out to your potential donor. You might be thinking, what if I ask for too much or too little. If you ask for too little, don’t worry too much, you will have future opportunities to bring them in as a larger donor. If you asked too much, most donors would feel a bit flattered and will tell you how much they can give. This allows you the opportunity to start the conversation around the new number.
Using these tips, you should have success raising funds for your projects. Your Regional Director is here to help craft your message, assist you in making the ask and organizing your fundraising.