Kate Perez, YWA member since 2008, has a resume full of fundraising experience. In YWA alone, she was the chair of individual fundraising on the development committee where she set up a benefit concert, she was senior vice president of the foundation, she was president and the list goes on. Outside of YWA, she embraced fundraising in many roles including event sponsorships, program sponsorships, ticket sales to benefit the organization and individual fundraising.
Through Perez’s extensive experience, she has gained a lot of insight to inspire us all to overcome the awkwardness of asking for money, and be gracious while doing so.
“Make it personal,” she suggests. If you’re writing a personalized letter, email or social post, make sure that it sounds genuine and from you. Using a template is completely fine, but make sure to read it aloud to make sure it sounds like you.
Perez also cautions to not be afraid of hearing “no.” She recommends looking at the big picture — you’re asking them to support a cause that’s important to you, you’re not just asking for money.
“The fear of being turned down is always worse than being turned down,” she says.
If you don’t have any fundraising experience, think of the process as a sale. Consider the perspective of the person you’re asking a donation from. What do they care about? Do they care about supporting you? Do they care about the cause? Are they looking for recognition? Are they interested in the impact of the donation? Figure out what their reason for donating is and frame your pitch around that.
Perez highly recommends saying thank you to those who choose to donate. You can send a handwritten note, an email or a text; just make sure they know that they aren’t just another check mark off of your hit list. Ensure they know that their donation means something to you.
“Keep in mind, most of these people are giving to support you, not necessarily the campaign or the cause,” Perez says. “Show your appreciation.”
Finally, be creative with your fundraising techniques. Perez suggests trying the following techniques to help you reach your goal:
• Find a donor that will match what you raise.
• Find a venue that gives a percentage of sales back to charity and host a happy hour.
• Ask restaurants or retail businesses to donate a gift certificate and hold a drawing for everyone that donated a certain amount or higher.
• Ask the people who donated to you last year to donate again this year.