Several people last week asked me the same question, “How do you convince someone to donate?”
It’s a simple question that seems to have a lot of people stumped.
So… I took the time this week to answer them.
Here’s how I responded:
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Let’s talk about how to convince people to donate your Catholic apostolate.
Hi, I’m Brice Sokolowski, founder of CatholicFundraiser.net, the website dedicated to sharing advice on fundraising professionally in the Catholic context, and to answering your questions. Today, I’m going to try and answer one of the most common questions about building support for your mission: convincing people how to donate to your Catholic apostolate.
Now, before we dive into the subject of, how we can convince people to donate, I want to be sure that, along with this video, you’ve got my completely free guide, The 10 Commandments to Catholic Fundraising. This guide delivers 10 lessons that every Catholic apostolate should follow in regards to fundraising. They helped with my fundraising and consequently, it’s been downloaded by thousands of other Catholics concerned about fundraising, too, and the consensus has been that the guide is very helpful. All this advice is absolutely free through the link below. Please go ahead and download it now.
Let’s talk about how we convince people to donate. I’ll do this in three parts:
The first is to look at the definition of the word, convince. What does convince actually mean? It is, very important to understand what it means to “be convincing” in order to convince people to donate to you. To convince means, to cause someone to believe firmly in the truth of something. To be convincing is to cause someone to believe firmly in the truth of something. So, in order to convince someone to donate, you must first get someone to believe firmly in the truth of your apostolate and its mission. (I will explain how to do that in a second, but this first point is really important). Before you can convince someone to say yes, you’ve got to really get them to believe in what you’re doing. So let’s put the donations aspect aside for a few minutes and talk about how to get someone to firmly believe in what you do.
This is the second part — asking yourself, how do you get people to believe in your apostolate? Do you share what you do in a way that allows people to believe in the truth of your apostolate? You must share what it is that you do in order to get people to believe in your apostolate. They have got to know what you’re doing, and in order for them to know what you’re doing it is helpful to communicate with them on a regular basis. All too often, the only time an apostolate shares its progress is when it (maybe) sends an annual report. Or they produce a newsletter that is published once a season to its community. So if you’re sending four newsletters a year, my question to you is, are four newsletters convincing people enough to get them to believe in what you’re doing? The short answer, from my perspective, is it is probably not enough. You’ve got to share with people what it is that you’re doing on a regular basis in order for them to believe in what you’re doing. It’s that simple. The more that you share, the more your community is going to start believing you because they’re going to start connecting with you. As a result, you are going to see more donations. So that’s point number two in this three-part concept about how to convince people
Point number three–and this is really important–before you ask somebody for a donation, make sure they believe firmly in what it is that you’re doing. The time for doing that is not in a seasonal letter where you have jotted down all the different things that you and the apostolate did throughout the year. When asking for a donation, you have got to have done all that stuff before. It’s the same thing with convincing people. When you’re speaking to someone you know, ask them, do you understand what we’re doing? Do you have a broader understanding of what we’ve been doing over the past few months? If what you’re getting out of them as an answer is, ‘No,’ then you probably shouldn’t be asking them for a donation. Please make sure that you separate the ask from the sharing of what it is that you do. Because usually what happens when such a quarterly newsletter or appeal comes in, most Catholics pause when confronted by a message that implies you’ve tried to cram everything together.
If you’re trying to send just one message of, “Hey, this is what we do. I hope that you believe in our mission. I hope you believe this is really important. Here’s a donation form,” then I’m going to tell you that you are just cramming your appeal with too much, too late. It’s not going to convince people to donate you. But, when you want to gain more recurring or major donors, try these three steps to convince them. I have found this perspective on convincing people to donate will work and the reason I say that is, because it is something that I have personally implemented with the apostolates that I’m working with, and they’re seeing great results.
So that is my message for today on how to convince people to donate to you. I hope it’s been helpful. Please share this with a Catholic apostolate or nonprofit that you think might benefit from it, and if you would like more assistance, just visit me at CatholicFundraising.net and I’d be happy to help! God love you. Bye!
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