Making the ask

Laura Fredricks

Do you think there should be a different approach when it comes to finding and engaging young people, asking someone to take a board and leadership position, or following up after an event?

I used to think so. When it came to younger people (so let’s define that as 35 years old and under) I thought it was best to take things slowly, to bring them into events, and then see how they felt about being more active, or not, with the organization. Asking someone to step up and take a leadership position was way opposite. I would pour through strategy meetings; contact reports; line up the right volunteer to “explore” the level of commitment; and probably a million other things. Following up with an event, that always sounded good way before the event. After the event there was so much more to do that I tried my best but always felt I just didn’t’ reach our attendees in a way that would continue their enthusiasm and possible future connection with the organization.

Well I’m here to tell you that you can accomplish all of the above and it just takes my Five-Step Process for Total Donor Engagement to get you there. Without giving too much away—I’m saving that for when I see you this May for the JCCs of North America Biennial Convention—I’ve discovered over the past few years that staff, leadership, volunteers AND DONORS like structure to any process. One of my favorite mantras for fundraising is that we all need:

Organization – Structure – Focus

Think about it. If you are an accountant there is an exact rule that will apply to your finances. If you are an attorney, there are a set laws and statutes that you use to enforce the law. As fundraisers and volunteers, we have parameters of ethical standards and practices but not a lot of structure. This gives our profession wonderful breathing room to be creative and to form lasting personal relationships with our donors. At the same time, the amorphous nature of fundraising can make the process difficult, causing us to second-guess our conversations, our timing and yes our asking for money.

So whenever I see a challenge, I present an opportunity. My five-step process applies whether you need to engage a younger person; ask someone to take a leadership role; or follow up after an event to see if the person or group of people is interested in learning more or being more involved. It is your roadmap your formula to achieve what you want with structure and focus. It will decrease the time it takes for you to have those conversations and increase your chances for getting an answer quicker and in most instances a yes.

The best thing about the five-step process is once you do it a few times, it becomes natural and you can see your donors and volunteers getting in rhythm with your meaningful and thoughtful conversations. After all isn’t that what everyone wants? The ability to offer wonderful and transformational opportunities with fabulous people who love the cause and love you!

Laura Fredricks is founder and CEO of THE ASK©, teaching nonprofits and businesses how to confidently, willingly and successfully ask for money.