Encouraging Donations – Part 2: How to Call and Ask for Donations


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As someone who works in the nonprofit sector, you do a lot to support your cause, and you certainly don’t want those efforts to be for naught. That’s why knowing how to call and ask for donations is a vital skill to master. 

Cultivating relationships with existing donors and acquiring new ones can be challenging. And having to do it virtually or over the phone, given the current situation, definitely adds to the challenge. 

We get it.

In the first part of our Encouraging Donations series, we wrote about how to build impactful content that encourages donors to contribute to your cause. Now, it’s time to learn how to do it over the phone and virtually. 

Why You Need to Get This Right

Fundraising is about more than just asking people for donations. It’s about bringing them into your story and showing them how their contribution can make a difference. If done right, it has many benefits to offer. 

For example… 

It Gives You the Ability to Plan for the Future

Without access to resources, your options as a nonprofit are limited. This leads to chaotic work and short-term projections. Further, it makes it that much harder to fulfill your mission.  

On the other hand, knowing how to call and ask for donations will give you a generous pool of resources that you can use to design a long-term plan for your organization.

It Aligns Your Work with Your Goals

The ability to access funds also serves as glue that unifies your actions with short and long-term goals. You can take a step back and envision your goals for the organization while taking actionable steps needed to get there. 

It Markets Your Nonprofit

Marketing your nonprofit involves reaching out to potential donors and broadcasting what you’ve done as an organization. You need funds to build a website, hire a marketing team, and increase your presence within your target community.

By reaching out to as many people as possible, you allow your nonprofit to grow while encouraging more donations. 

How to Call and Ask for Donations: 7 Practical Tips That Will Make It Easier

Most of the calls and virtual communication you’ll be making will be focused on donor cultivation and stewardship. Getting this step right will not only help you acquire donations but also foster donor loyalty

Follow these seven practical tips when calling for donations…

1) Use Talking Points That Appeal to the Emotions

Requesting for people to give to your cause can be intimidating, we know. That’s why you need to create a list of talking points if you want to know how to call and ask for donations.

According to Nonprofits Source, 77% of donors believe they can make a difference by supporting causes. So, when trying to get people to give, you need to appeal to those emotions. 

How do you do that? It takes research beforehand.

Discuss specific areas of your cause that will go straight to your potential donor’s heart. Do they have a history of giving in this particular area? If so, you need to inspire that passion and choose your words carefully. You need to evoke emotions and light the fire of giving in their heart.

When appealing to the donor’s emotions, address not only the benefits of giving but also the stakes involved. Tread lightly here, though. You don’t want to sound threatening. Instead, create a sense of urgency and emphasize why their donations would make a significant difference. 

Be specific with your ask. Let them know how they can give. If this is an existing donor, let them know if the donation channels are the same or if they have changed. Make it as convenient for them as possible to make that donation. 

2) Talk to Your Current Donors First

Now, more than ever, is when you must recognize and express gratitude to your current donors for the donations they made in the past. But there’s also another layer to this—donor retention. 

According to The Non-Profit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, those who donate monthly have a retention rate of 90%. So, start with current donors first!

Existing donors offer a higher lifetime value to your organization, and they will help you achieve long-term and sustainable growth for your nonprofit. Plus, starting with existing donors is much less nerve-racking if you’re just learning how to call and ask for donations. 

3) Share the Difference Your Organization Is Making

When you call donors, give them an update on the work you’ve been doing by pulling from your success stories. Let them know about the progress you’ve made so far. And explain how their contribution can help your organization do even more.  

Be genuine and authentic when doing this. Think of it as though you’re catching up with a friend over the phone. Keep it light while remaining professional. 

It’s not enough that you know how to call and ask for donations; you need to express a genuine interest in your donors, too. Listen to what they have to say about the information you are sharing. 

Use this opportunity to get their feedback on your cause. It’s also important to understand their motivation for giving so that you can address that in the future. 

4) Use Script Templates & Customize Them

No matter how many times you’ve made that call, there are times when your mind freezes, and you have no idea what to say next. Save yourself from this embarrassment and a wasted opportunity to obtain donations for your nonprofit by creating a script template.

But refrain from reading directly from your script. It will come off as disingenuous, and that can turn donors off.

A script template should be used as a guide. You can even create an outline of the main talking points discussed above to let the conversation flow naturally.

Keep your script template flexible so that you can adjust based on how the donor responds to your ask and hit on various motivational cues for the donor.

There are a lot of resources online to help you build your script template. Here are just a few examples of scripts geared toward donors at various stages:

5) Don’t Wing It

When you pick up the phone to call your donors, you should know exactly what outcome you want. You can’t just wing it! 

It also pays to know your donors personally and the method of communication they prefer. This tailored approach will make them feel appreciated and will affect the relationship you have with that donor in a positive way. 

Do they prefer you to be more direct with them? 

Do they ask you for data on your projects and other campaigns? 

Knowing this beforehand will allow you to prepare for that conversation. A big part of learning how to call and ask for donations comes from understanding who you are talking to and how to do so effectively. 

6) Listen to What They Have to Say

Brunette female nonprofit leader wearing headphones while on video call in office.

It’s easy to ramble on and on about your nonprofit and what it has done or has been doing. After all, you’re passionate about your cause! But you have to make it a dialogue between you and your donor. 

Think about the moves management strategy when trying to generate donations for your organization. You can’t expect to get on a call and be guaranteed a donation in return. You have to nurture that relationship and build rapport first.

By allowing them to speak, you give them the opportunity to express their thoughts, which makes them feel valued and heard. 

7) Bring It Back to What They’ll Get Out of Donating

This leads us to the most crucial aspect of knowing how to call and ask for donations: the benefits for the donor.

It’s essential to use previous donations as a springboard for this conversation. Let the donors know what previous contributions have done and how new contributions can continue what you’ve started.

Keep this conversation positive. Always highlight the good that any contribution has done to help your cause. Many donors give solely for philanthropic reasons, but for others, it matters what you’ve done with that money.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to call and ask for donations is critical to your nonprofit’s success. It can be daunting, but it becomes much easier when you adjust the practical tips above based on your unique circumstances and the relationship you have with your donors.
Need more help with fundraising? Download A Quick-Start Guide to Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits FREE!


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About Shannon Kegerries

Shannon’s deep desire to help others is a trait that was developed early on, as she has always enjoyed seeing people, groups, organizations, companies, and families thrive and make positive changes that encourage growth in all areas. That combined with her love of learning is what drove her to earn her master’s degree in psychology and counseling from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. For more than 15 years, Shannon worked in a variety of settings as a behavioral, family, young adult, and group therapist. As a behavioral therapist and case manager who has worked with people from nearly all walks of life, Shannon has a knack for helping others reach their desired outcomes, which she applies to her work at Viral Solutions as a content marketer. In addition to possessing keen insight into what drives human behavior, Shannon strives to find various ways in which she can relay each client’s message and vision to their prospect so that it hits every angle and sinks into the prospect’s mind. Likening her role to that of a detective, Shannon enjoys gathering information about each client’s prospect and competitor, then fitting it all together with the client’s product/service as the answer to the problem. She is a StoryBrand Certified Guide.

When she’s not working, Shannon enjoys reading, skiing, painting, and spending time with her family.