Posted by Pamela Kilzer


When it comes to fundraising for your nonprofit organization, oftentimes you do not get exactly what you were hoping for. Depending on the type of nonprofit, you could be in need of volunteers, gently used goods or just financial donations.

While gifts of any kind can be helpful, they may not always be the most helpful. But, you definitely do not want volunteers or donors to feel unappreciated. How can you walk the line of gently—but honestly—telling constituents exactly what you need? Today we dive in and learn the art of asking for what your nonprofit needs.

Tell your story.

First, you want to get people engaged with your nonprofit organization (NPO) by telling them your story—and how they can be a part of it. What cause do you care about? What is the organization’s mission? Why were you founded? Every NPO has a profound story to tell, and when you do that, you can connect with constituents on a deeper level, and make them care.

What does it look like to tell your story? Sharing with others through your marketing efforts. Whether in email marketing, social media or direct mail, include pieces of your story. This can take many shapes: the importance of your cause, a successful client’s story or how your organization was founded.

Then be sure to engage volunteers and donors by telling them how they can be a part of your story. For instance, if you share the compelling background of a client helped, involve constituents by explaining how they can help the next client. Telling your story makes your NPO more relatable, which will make constituents more inclined to respond to your actual needs.

Decide what you need.

Of course, in order to ask for what you need, you first have to decide on what it is. Maybe you have a big fundraiser coming up which you desperately require volunteers for. Or, your clients need winter coats to keep warm in the upcoming months. Finally, maybe you just need money. Whatever it happens to be, do not be afraid to ask for it.

Decide on your most pressing need right now, then implement it into your marketing and outreach efforts. Perhaps your organization needs a little bit of everything right now. This serves as a great chance to get all of your constituents involved, no matter what they can give. The most important component is to identify your needs and share them with the constituent base.

Choose the right approach.

From here, your need can help determine your target audience, which influences the approach you want to utilize. For instance, if you need volunteers to spend a day out in the sun doing hard labor and cleaning up a community garden, you may want to focus your audience outreach on a younger, more active generation. In this sense, your best approach could be to utilize social media or text message marketing.

Perhaps your need is broader, therefore your approach would be broader. If you are desperately trying to raise money through a specific fundraiser, then your approach could be through a variety of different marketing channels: email, direct mail and social media. In this sense, consider your goals, target audience and best way to reach them.

Be compelling and creative.

We take in thousands of messages every day, from advertisements to commercials to even social media posts. All of these messages ask us for something, whether it is money, time or just a like and a share. So in order for your message to actually stick, it needs to stand out from the crowd. Do this by making sure your “ask” is compelling and creative.

Focus on building a relationship with your constituents, rather than just throwing out an ask for gifts and hoping to get a response. Put some effort into how you will ask, learn what matters most to constituents and then engage with them. When you put a little extra creativity into your ask, volunteers and donors will pay more attention and provide exactly what your NPO needs.

Say thank you.

Finally, show your gratitude. Constituents will not want to keep giving to a nonprofit that never says thank you. Send out thank-you cards, emails or personalized gifts to show your appreciation to constituents who listened to your ask, then responded. Gratitude will continue to build relationships with volunteers and donors, who can keep coming back to give in the future. When a constituent contributes to a specialized ask, tell them how their contribution helped make a difference and you will continue to see your responses grow.

Your nonprofit’s mission matters, therefore your needs matter. Those needs may be different than others’, and can vary depending on your cause, focus and goals. Communicate your needs with volunteers and donors by telling your story, engaging with them and asking directly to fill the greatest need. When you ask for exactly what your organization needs, you will be much more likely to receive it and continue to grow your cause in the community.

Want to learn more about how to build a successful and effective nonprofit? Firespring can help! We offer helpful materials, webinars and seminars on how your nonprofit can market itself to further its cause. Find out more by calling 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.org.


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