It’s no secret that this is a challenging time for charitable fundraising. In its annual Giving USA 2019 report, the Giving USA Foundation noted a decrease in individual and household giving, blaming such impersonal factors as tax law changes and a wobbly stock market.

a dark-haired woman wearing glasses sits with another dark-haired woman at a wooden table in front of a notepad and laptop computer, possibly discussion fundraising options

So why not fight back by making personal appeals to supporters? Requests from friends or family members have traditionally been significant donation drivers. Even in the age of social media “influencers,” prospective donors are more likely to contribute to the causes championed by people they actually know and trust.

Success Strategies
The dedicated members of your board can be particularly effective at fundraising. But make sure they have the information and training necessary to be successful when reaching out to their networks.

When making a personal appeal to prospective donors, your board members should:

Meet in person. Letters and email can help save time, but face-to-face appeals are more effective. This is especially true if your not-for-profit offers donors something in exchange for their attention. For instance, they’re more likely to be swayed at an informal coffee hour or after-work cocktail gathering hosted by a board member.

Humanize the cause. Say that your charity raises money for cancer treatment. If board members have been impacted by the disease, they might want to relate their personal experiences as a means of illustrating why they support the organization’s work.

Highlight benefits. Even when appealing to potential donors’ philanthropic instincts, it’s important to mention other possible benefits. For example, if your organization is trying to encourage local business owners to attend a charity event, board members should promote the event’s networking opportunities and public recognition (if applicable).

Wish List
Consider equipping board members with a wish list of specific items or services your not-for-profit needs. Some of their friends or family members may not be able to support your cause with a monetary donation but can contribute goods (such as auction items) or in-kind services (such as technology expertise).

If you’re concerned about declining donations and need help finding new revenue streams, contact your trusted advisor for ideas.