How to ask supporters to fundraise for you

Jesper Juul Jensen
Min to read

You know how to make the ask for donations, but do you know how to ask supporters to fundraise for you? And what are the differences between the two asks?  

You have learned how to make the best landing page for donations and how to make the case for donations. You do it daily to companies, to privates, online, offline, in ads and in person.

But the science and art on how to ask for fundraisers have not had the same level of attention. This is our take on how you best can ask supporters to fundraise for your organisation.

Why would anyone fundraise for you?

To learn how to ask supporters to fundraise for you, you need to know why people would fundraise for you in the first place. Basically there are three main reasons anyone would create a fundraiser for you:

  • They care deeply about you, the organisation.
    Over the years, you have touched many people deeply. You have helped people to overcome personal crises, made lasting impressions, showed them parts of life they didn't know existed. In other words, you have created connections to your supporters beyond the ordinary.
  • They strongly care about your cause.
    They are absolutely devoted to joining your fight and they would like to contribute to your battle.

    They may have a personal connection as either they, or a relative, have been affected by the cause. It can also be that their belief system compels them to care about your cause.
  • They will fundraise because the activity is engaging.
    You can get your existing and potential supporters to fundraise for you, by connecting fundraising with an activity that they find fun or engaging.

    This could be sports activities, either endurance events that challenges the participants or everyday sports activities that is fun and social. It could also be other social activities, like concerts, dinners or funny/crazy challenges like Movember.

The best performing fundraisers are already ambassadors for your organisation or cause. They belong to the first two groups.

If a person fundraises because they want to participate in an event together with their friends, fundraising comes in second. But that person might be your future ambassador, and this is your opportunity to expand your community by enlisting new supporters.

The activity matters for all potential fundraisers

The big difference between asking for donations and asking people to fundraise is the activity.

You need to convince that not only is your organisation worth supporting, but it is also engaging, fun, and worthwhile to fundraise for.

See this as an opportunity. Offer activities that motivate potential new supporters and engage with them in a positive maner. The goal is that they will be your next life long supporters.  

Most individuals prefer to fundraise in connection with an activity. And that is true for everyone, also for the person that is devoted to your organisation and cause. An activity gives them a ‘hook’ that helps them to ask for donations from their friends and family. T

he activity is therefore very important, both if you target new supporters or want to engage your existing community.

How to ask supporters to fundraise for you

Okay, enough with the birds-eye view, let’s dig a level deeper on how to make a great ask for fundraisers.

This below will go through the importance of segmenting supporters based on the activity. Why you need cover all three motivators when answering the why. Which hesitations you need to overcome, and not at least how you can provide social proof.

As always: Segment!

You will be asking your supporters to fundraise through the your ordinary normal channels.

These are the same channels where you usually are asking for donations. Examples of this is your website, newsletter, print magazine, at events, in ads etc. If you communicate through a medium where you know little of the audience, make sure to offer a varied selection of opportunities to get involved in.

When you are using a more targeted channel, e.g. sending a newsletter to a segmented list, narrow in on the activity that is most relevant to offer this segment.

If your supporter database is rich in information, you can target activities to those it is relevant for.

  • Ask supporters with an upcoming 50 year birthday to donate their birthday.
  • Send information on your new challenge event to those who participated in the 60k bike race last year.
  • Families are more likely to participate in a bake sale event than you 28 year old single male, and so forth.  

Answer the ‘why'

You should of course tell what good the money fundraised will do. This will both reinforce that fundraising for you is a great way of supporting the cause and that the cause matters.

Never forget to answer the 'Why' of your cause and why fundraising for your organisation matters. This is the part that is the same for both the ask for donations and the ask for fundraisers. I will therefore not go into depths with details here.  

The below video is a brilliant example of addressing all three motivations.

Handle Hesitations

Most people will have hesitations about fundraising. Your task is to help them overcome these.  

Not having an occasion to fundraise in connection with, is often an obstacle for anyone who wishes to fundraise for you. Therefore providing these activities is a crucial task. Saying that “you can fundraise in connection with anything” is rarely good enough, as most people are way less creative than we think they are. So, provide concrete ideas and occasions. This can be sports events, pledge your birthday campaigns or challenge your self campaigns.

Another common hesitation is the lack of knowledge about how to fundraise. You can overcome this hesitation by providing fundraising guides and tools. Make sure they know that you will be there to help them.

Even though many of the help tools and advice first becomes relevant later, don’t hesitate to make it available already before they create their fundraiser.

There might also be more practical hesitations. You can answer this by providing easy access to FAQ materiale in connection with you ask. Common questions can be about how to create an online fundraising page, what content to add to it, how donations are processed and how donors can donate and obtain a tax deduction.

Some people just jump into a task and figure these things out on the go, others like to be very well prepared. For these more cautious types you will need to provide the answers already before they start their fundraiser.

Provide Social Proof

The most common hesitation is the reluctance to ask friends and family for donations. Asking for donations have never been straightforward and there are strong social norms connected with asking for donations. It is therefore important to show that fundraising for a worthy cause like yours is both normal and admirable.

Not surprisingly this hesitation is best answered by normalising the activity of fundraising. Some ways of normalising peer-to-peer fundraising are;

  • Endorsements. Don’t be afraid to show endorsements from previous fundraisers. Simply contact previous fundraiser for quotes about how well received their fundraiser was.

    It is fine to toss in a celebrity or two as role models, but remember that the goal is to normalise it, and celebrities are anything but normal.
  • Articles and profiles on previous fundraisers. Regularly post stories through your social media accounts, newsletters and blog about people fundraising. The more times you have seen others fundraising, the more normal it is.
  • Show how much fun people have fundraising. Highlight positive stories of people fundraising, while doing silly and social events. Try to show it as visual as possible and spend time to make compelling visual materiale.
  • Use numbers and visualise the size of the community. You can for example visualise the size community of fundraisers by having a counter widget. Or show hos many donations the community have collected in total and the impact it.

    You can also show the profile pictures of the latest 20 fundraisers, to show the real people behind the numbers.

Examples? Sure, here is examples on how to handle practical hesitations, provide social proof and write profiles on previous fundraisers. Read also this blog post by Bernard Ross on how to work with social proof in fundraising.

The anatomy of a great ask

In order to ask people to fundraise, you will need to work all three motivators at the same time.

  • Why should I engage in this fundraising activity?
  • Why should I care about this cause? and,
  • Why is your organisation the best choice?

Start out with answering questions about the activity and make sure you don’t forget the other two. Segment your database on what type of fundraising activity a person would be most likely to engage in. Make sure that you provide material for overcoming the most common hesitations. And give social proof that fundraising is a great activity that everyone easily can engage in.  

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