The First Rule
The most important part of fundraising is to ask people for money. It may seem obvious, but a lot of people are shy, or can never seem to find the right time. Even customers who donate large sums of money to the non-profit organization should to let their friends, family and co-workers know what they're doing to help others, and then ask them if they would like to make a donation. Most people will not give money if they are not asked.
Who Do You Ask?
Board members should be first on your list. They're obviously interested in the goals of your program and they should show their support by making a substantial donation. The next group you should approach is the recipients of the service that your organization provides. The people that enjoy local theatre should support that theatre. Parents who benefit from an after-school daycare feel obliged to help out financially. Finally, ask people who have donated before. If they felt strongly enough about your work in the past, they likely still do.
How Do You Ask?
There are four major ways to ask for funding. The first is to mail out information about your programs to community members and ask them to support you. Be sure to include a self addresses, stamped envelope for their donations. The second is over the phone. This works best if they are follow-up calls that refer to information the people you are calling have already received. Cold calling is an annoyance. To get any really large contribution, it's necessary to speak face-to-face. This type of solicitation is most effective coming from board members who have made a sizable financial contribution themselves; this gives them credibility. In this day and age, another effective way of raising funds is over the internet. Having a website that includes a convenient way for interested parties to send in donations is an inexpensive tool for reaching a potentially huge audience.
When Do You Ask?
The obvious time to ask for donations is the end of the year. The holiday season has people in a charitable mood, and with tax season approaching they know they can use a sizable donation as a credit. This being said, it's important to keep fundraising year round. Most of the money given to charities each year comes from smaller donations made by people who just want to help.