Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for More

A friend of mine recently forwarded the following blog link to me.

The author dives into 8 of the most common, and perhaps most detrimental, mistakes a nonprofit development team can do with their donor relations.

The author’s list concludes with an eight point that urges the reader to make a sincere thank you to those who give. This is the point of elaboration. Two questions guide the discussion: what is the implication of a giving program that has no gratitude built-in and what is the implication of giving that does not invite a future gift?

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the blessings and implications of “point of sale” giving. We’ve all seen the “give a penny to a cause” piggy-bank type giving slots at store check out counters. Similarly, we are often asked if we would like to add a dollar to the sum of our purchase. Both circumstances yield similar results- we give with the ease of a drop of change, a click of a button, or a head nod to the clerk. In that previous blog entry I argued that although convenient, these giving options defy the basic rule of giving which argues that “people give to people”. In these formats, people give after the coveted Cheerios are acquired…thereby dehumanizing that personal contact that usually drives the giving process.

Who extends the thank you in these circumstances? If giving thanks is a critical part of a giving program who thanks the point of sale giver? Does the cashier extend the important thank you?  Is this individual worthy of thanks? Some point of sale programs provide an answer to these questions. Have you seen the option for givers to write their name on a postage document which is then displayed in the front window? In such instances, giving is more of a “I’ve just voted” badge of honor that is eventually removed when the giving program ends or when the window is due another Windex treatment (whichever comes first). The “thank you” in our ever increasingly less-intimate culture of giving is not present.

I understand the authors point that a thank you should not sound like a remixed appeal for more contribution. After all, when we are given birthday gifts, we do not ask our friends who generously gave to give again next year. However, that thank you needs to have some element of urgency. Point 6 of the authors punch list reminds us that there needs to be something of value (such as an opportunity to volunteer) in our communications to the giver. Point 5 reminds us that we need to communicate the impact of the gift. When combined, both points remind us that the thank you needs to honor the recent gift and provide a natural invitation to give more.

A nonprofit needs to eloquently argue that the single gift made an impact but the mission requires much more commitment than the single gift can provide. Missions that focus on ending homelessness, for example, need to recognize the single family that is housed thanks to the donation but also recognize that there are many more families that continue to require these services. Future similar gifts are needed.

Nonprofits should not be afraid to ask for more.

The development team of nonprofits should communicate in the thank you that their relationship with the giver is a partnership that has and may continue to make a difference.

If the nonprofit is afraid to ask its allies for future support then fundraising efforts (which are often targeted towards gaining new supporters)  are bound to be difficult.

There needs to be a link between the progress the partnership provided and the great potential progress that same partnership may yield in the future.

I agree with the author when she states that this thank you needs to communicate a clear sense of gratitude. But I argue that nonprofits must be bold and unashamed to ask for more. The nonprofit sector is not the scene from “Oliver Twist” when the child is scared to ask for more.

Our missions are urgent, our need is great, and our partnerships empower us to make social change. Alas, a renewed partnership will not come to those who do not ask for it.

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