The Art of the Ask

How to Make an Emotional Connection with Supporters

Learn how to achieve greater fundraising success by weaving the “WHY” into every fundraising ask and connecting emotionally with your supporters and volunteers.

Post Date: Oct 31 2019

Knowing how to make a fundraising Ask will lead to greater success for your group’s effort — and help you reach (and even EXCEED) your goals. We like to say that there are two sides to every good Ask:

  1. The “WHY” of your ask (making an emotional connection)
  2. The “HOW-TO” of your Ask

First, let’s talk about the “WHY” of your ask.

The Why of Your Fundraising Ask

Part 1 - Why You Are Asking for Support

The key to fundraising success is to create an emotional connection with your supporter and volunteer. All of us like to think that our spending and time is a logical decision; but for most of us, it’s also an emotional one. Should you make potential supporters and volunteers cry — even the good kind of tears? That’s probably a bit much, but you DO want people to understand the impact of what your group does, and the importance of your campaign and cause.

As a preamble to your Ask, try to establish an initial connection that may already exist. For example:

“You may have seen our group participate at ‘such-and-such’ event...” or “Perhaps you’ve heard about our fundraising campaign to help so-and-so...”

Make the Conversation about the Supporter/Volunteer (The Person Who You are Asking)

Keep in mind that you want to ask your potential supporters and volunteers to help you because it will make them feel good—and make them feel even kinder. It's perfectly good form to motivate supporters and volunteers with their own emotional satisfaction!

To that end, make the conversation about the supporter and volunteer as much as you can:

  1. Explain clearly who their support will help
  2. Then show them how they can become a part of that community, part of the solution
  3. And show them the positive results their time and supporting purchase to your group will bring
The How-to of Your Fundraising Ask

Part 2 - How to Ask for Support

Now that we’re all warm and fuzzy, let’s look at the second part of the Ask—the “how-to.” It’s the most basic part of the strategy.

Always Ask a Question

Making sure to do this every single time will have a tremendous positive effect on your fundraising campaign. Lots of folks who are new to the fundraising world feel a bit self-conscious — and oddly enough, this feeling leads most people to make “statements” rather than ask actual questions.

For example, do you find yourself saying things such as “I really hope you’ll consider volunteering a couple hours each week with our organization.” Or something like “Please consider supporting our group with a purchase.”

Those words probably sound perfectly fine... But, notice that these are both statements, rather than Asks.

The best practice is to ask an honest-to-goodness question! It should be a query that the listener or potential supporter needs to answer with a “yes” or “no.” For instance, when you say “Would you please purchase some premium cashews to support our group today?” you’ve asked a real question that requires an answer. And that leads us to the second part of the Ask strategy:

Make the Ask...and Wait for the Answer

This can be tough or even uncomfortable — and that discomfort is a big reason most folks prefer statements. But the space for an answer is probably the most critical part of your process. Once you’ve asked your question, come to a full stop — and shift your focus to listening.

It’s a secret in the business world: when you’re doing the selling, make your Ask, then "close," silently. Salespeople know that the next person to speak after the Ask, feels the pressure of the moment. And when the emotional connection has been made, and the rewards for saying yes are clear...everything aligns for an affirmative answer to your request.

Just remember to be patient, and let your supporter be the first to answer after you make the Ask. Most people want to find a way to say yes: they just need a moment to figure out how. They may have a question for you. Or they may need to think about the purchase — whether they can afford it, or which products they like most among those offered.

It’s natural to want to try and convince people, but resist the urge to push, or to restate your need too emphatically. As we discussed above, you want your potential supporter to feel connected, to be part of the conversation. In the Ask scenario, supporters are more like partners, not skeptics to be won over. Let them into the process with a real question and real space to answer — and you'll get more “yes” and way more success!

An Example Fundraising Ask that Answers both “Why” and “How”

Here is an example script for a fundraiser selling Terri Lynn nuts and chocolates to raise money to purchase backpacks for kids in need. You can change this to fit your group:

“Hi! We’re the “Friends of Midtown USA.” Our group is raising money to provide backpacks and school supplies for low income children—right here in our community! Every 8 bags of premium Terri Lynn nuts we sell means that one more at risk child has the school supplies they need to succeed. (Plus these nuts and chocolates make great holiday gifts - you can’t find this quality in our local retail stores!) Your support would make a big difference in Midtown. Would you please purchase some from me today?” [...and wait for a reply...]

And, of course, don't forget to say a big THANK YOU to both your supporters and volunteers! Keeping up a steady stream of support and encouragement is key to going the distance with your fundraiser.

More Fundraising Tips from the Experts

At Terri Lynn, we have over 30 years experience partnering with groups of all sizes to fundraise — and we’d be happy to share our expertise with you.

There are free resources here on our website to get you started right away. We recommend you check out this post: Ten Tips to Fundraising Success for a comprehensive how-to guide that any group can use to meet, and exceed their fundraising goals.

Or you may ask questions using our Contact page. If you prefer the phone, please call 1-800-323-0775 and one of our Dedicated Fundraising Experts can answer your questions and help your organization learn how to raise money quickly!

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