How To Get More Donations

In all types of fundraising you are essentially making a donation request. So, what do you say or do to get more donations for your cause? Answer one simple question.

How To Get More Donations

Whether you are raising funds online, face to face, through letters or email, or even with events or charity auctions, you’ll get more donations if you answer one simple question that every donor has in the back of their mind.

All right, so what’s this question that’s so important yet so many groups ignore it in their fundraising appeal?

Master copywriter and fundraising consultant Alan Sharpe answers that question for you in this guest article. Read more in the article below for that “aha moment” when you realize just how important answering that question really is when you are asking for donations, aka fundraising.

Answer the Only Question Non-Profit Donors Have and You’ll Raise More Money Fundraising

Your donors have only one question that bothers them.

If you want to acquire more donors, you have to answer it. If you want to raise more net revenue, you need to answer it. And if you want to increase the lifetime value of your donors, you must answer it.

Here’s their question: “How will my donation change the world?”

Donors are confused
Donors ask this question for a number of reasons. For one thing, they’re confused. If they live in Canada and want to support an organization that helps children with cancer, which charity should they choose for their donation?

For example, should they donate to the Childhood Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Research Society, Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada, Coast to Coast Against Cancer, Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation, the Terry Fox Run, or someone else?

Many donors don’t know. Or can’t decide. So given that your non-profit organization has competitors who do similar work, you must tell prospective and current donors exactly how you will use their gift to transform lives. Otherwise your donors may donate somewhere else.

Donors have limited funds
There’s another reason you must tell your donors how their gift will make the world a better place. Some of them are on a fixed income. Others just retired. More than a few have student debt. Or other kinds of debt. Some are broke.

Either way, they can’t support as many charities as they’d like, so they give their money to the few causes that promise to make the biggest difference with their gifts.

Donors fund specifics, not generalities
Given the choice between donating to “End Hunger in Your City” or giving a donation that buys “Thanksgiving dinner for $1.73” for a man at the local homeless mission, you know what the donor will choose. And so does the donor.

How will my donation change the world?” is a question that demands a specific answer, not a general one. Supply the answer and your donor will supply the donation.

Don’t ask for a single donations until you can answer this question. That goes for every campaign, every appeal, every ask throughout the year, whether special events, direct mail, email appeal, face-to-face, telephone or online.

Answering this question is the key to donor acquisition, renewal, retention, upgrading and lifetime value. Gert this one right, and you’ll get your whole program right.

And make sure your answer is clear, concrete and compelling. Your donors demand it, no question about it.

About The Author

Alan Sharpe, CFRE, is a fundraising consultant, author, trainer and speaker. He serves as Senior Strategist at Harvey McKinnon Associates, the full-service fundraising agency specializing in direct mail and monthly giving for the nonprofit sector. Through his weekly newsletter, books, handbooks and workshops, Alan helps not-for-profit organizations worldwide to acquire more donors, raise more funds and build stronger relationships. Sign up for “Sharpe Tips,” Alan’s free, weekly, email newsletter, at
© 2011 Alan Sharpe.

More Donation Request Tips

What’s In It For Me? – In fundraising, pay attention to psychological motivation – People always want to know what’s in it for them. The benefits of your fundraising must be quickly and clearly explained in terms of “What’s In It For Me” so that people can relate quickly to your donation request.

Sample School Donation Request Letter – Sample school event donation letter where you can insert your specific information.

Silent Auction Request Letter – Sample letter that you can copy to ask business owners to donate an item or service for your fundraising event.

Donation Letter Tips – How to write a donation letter including what to say and when to say it in your letter.

Fundraising Letters Sample Template – The most important thing in any fundraising letter is the “ask” – the sentence where you ask for a donation.