2 min Read
November 11, 2010

Excuse me, do you care about women’s rights?

I live in Park Slope, know it? It’s one of Brooklyn’s most populated neighborhoods: home to liberals, strollers, foodies, and much more. On the weekends, I often take some time to stroll around, run some errands, and catch up with friends over brunch.As a communications strategist and fundraiser, I’m always on the look out for interesting campaigns, appeals, and tactics. Oh, and apparently I’ve got that face. The one that says, hey, ask her for money–she’ll buy that candy bar from the kid on the subway. I’ve got that mouth too, often doing most of the talking when a telemarketer calls for a donation, shocked that I haven’t immediately hung up.A lovely fundraising activist for Planned Parenthood

So it should come as no surprise that a young activist would think to ask me, of all the passersby on busy 7th Avenue last Sunday, if I cared about women’s rights. Well of course I do, so I stopped to engage in what quickly became an appeal for my support. A paid fundraiser for Planned Parenthood (this came up later), Mary, started by asking if I’d make a donation of $30/month for the next year. This blew me away. Maybe I give less than the average do-gooder in my community, but she could see my shock and quickly recovered. Within minutes, I was filling out the paperwork to make a more modest, one-time gift of $25.00.

I’m a long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, so I’m an easy sell (In fact, I used to manage their telefundraising program in the late 1990s as a consultant with Adams Hussey & Associates). I may have even been her first donor and she happily answered my questions about how and why she got involved (via college campus recruitment).The whole exchange left me with a few questions for you, my nonprofit friends, as you try to raise more money (often unrestricted) from good people like me:

  • Do you know your army of fundraisers? You may not have volunteers and activists canvassing the streets on your behalf, but I’m guessing you’ve got some passionate donors. Chances are they tell their friends about you, talk you up at dinner parties, and may even ask friends to donate around year-end or birthday wish time.
  • Do you have a brief and compelling case for giving? Chances are if you and your army of fundraisers could fit it into a 140-character tweet that others would want to copy and retweet, you are in good shape.
  • Do you have a second or third ask in the wings? Most prospects don’t give the first time you ask. Are you ready with a new ask and reason to support you before letting them walk away?
  • Do you cultivate the donor beyond the gift? I haven’t received an email or letter thanking me for the donation I made last Sunday. It was pretty recent, so I’m sure it is on its way. And what about you? Do you thank your donors? And when you do, what comes next?

I could go on, but you’ve got work to do. But before you go back to raising millions, share some thoughts and pearls of wisdom here. That comment box is for you!