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When it comes to raising money, you can encounter objections. Some of them start with your own team! People may want to know how and why the fundraising goal was set, what the funds will be used for, and what the impact will be. They may want the most up-to-date data, coordinated strategies, and new marketing materials.

While each of these are important fundraising prerequisites, they can also be excuses that keep your team from asking people to support an organization they believe in, or a university they graduated from. Fundraising can be intimidating, and fear can creep up unconsciously and sabotage the best intentions. We want you to be successful, and so we offer two tips to help you start fundraising today.

First, if you work at a nonprofit or university, look at your list of donors. It doesn’t matter what technology you use to store your donor information, the most important thing is to look at it. Identify who your five largest donors are for each of the past three years. Check to see if each has made a gift this year. If yes, have you called to say thank you? (Hint, if you haven’t, pick up the phone now.) If you find there are top donors who haven’t yet given for this year, do a little more research. Who do they know? What inspired them to give? Who would be the right person to talk with each donor, one-on-one, to encourage them to make a gift before the year end?

Once you have compiled this information you need to reach out to your “solicitors.” That’s a big fundraising term to describe the people who will ask your donors for a gift. Yes, that’s right, you want people to ask. You can send a letter, you can send an email – there’s nothing wrong with that – but for your largest donors you want a personal touch.

Talk with your solicitors to make sure they are up to date with the work and impact of your organization. And very importantly, make sure that each has already made a gift this year. You want people to share why they give, and encourage others to join them.

You don’t have to work at a nonprofit or university to make things happen. Use your initiative and engage your network. Host a party at your own home or office and let people know you want to make a group gift to a nonprofit – or university – you believe in. Here’s how it works, invite friends over for coffee, a drink or snacks. Ask each to donate $20 or $100 depending on your crowd. Or, invite everyone to get on line at the same time and give from their phones. Make it fun. You can do something. You don’t have to wait until you know the “right people” have the “right” database, or produce the new marketing brochure.

Use what you have to get where you want to go. Ask your donors and friends to give. 

Copyright 2017 – Mel Shaw and Pearl Shaw, CFRE

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.

 Image courtesy of

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