Getting Over Your Anxiety About The Ask

January 21, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Most people who are uncomfortable about asking for money, in other words, most people, have legitimate reasons for their anxiety. They see asking for money as invasive of the time or space of the person being solicited and presumptuous about the potential donor’s resources or friendliness to the cause or the organization.

People don’t like asking because they don’t like being asked.

During the National Catholic Development Conference’s annual event, Brian Saber, president of Asking Matters, said that while the anxiety is real, it cannot be allowed to stand as an obstacle. He pointed to the following facts: empathy matters; asking in person is the most effective form of fundraising someone can perform; and, three out of four asks result in a gift of one type or another.

So, how then does one get past the difficulties about asking for money? Saber suggested keeping the following five points in mind:

  • Remember why you care.
  • Remember that you are only the messenger.
  • Start small to practice.
  • Recruit a partner.
  • Know your asking style. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you fact based or detail oriented. Do you tend to rush to close a deal or can you relax and let things move slowly?

And, you’d better get ready to ask. The good news: 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years, and those Boomers represent one of the most affluent groups in society, good for $47 billion annually in charitable contributions.

The bad news: they’re giving less each year, not more.

Larry Meltzer, agency principal and creative director of MM2 Public Relations, shared the good and bad news. He also said it is possible for nonprofit fundraisers to reverse the negative trend, but to do so they must understand why a caring, committed group pulled back on its philanthropic giving.

Meltzer attributed it to five factors:

  • The economic situation. Between 2007 and 2009, Boomers aged 55-64 experienced a 23.9 percent income drop and Boomers aged 45-54 experienced a 17.6 percent income drop.
  • Life stage. Boomers are struggling to save for retirement. They are struggling because of the Great Recession, reduced savings and high levels of debt.
  • More choices. 400,000 new nonprofits were created in the last decade. The number of public charities is up 50 percent, so there is now approximately one nonprofit for every 175 Americans.
  • Information consumption. Boomers spend 27 hours a week online. Social network use doubled in 2011 among users 50 and older.
  • Information access. Boomers are more educated, and they think more analytically than previous donors.
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