Dear Mrs. Sanderson,
I’m very sorry to hear that you didn’t raise as much money as you expected from announcing the food pantry last Sunday. Don’t be discouraged. This is only the beginning. You now have four people who have promised to donate every month. That’s $150 per month that you didn’t have before.
Not only that, now the whole parish is aware of what you’re doing and know that Fr. Zagloba has given you his blessing. This is a very big deal. Now we just have to move into a new phase of support raising.
Making it personal
It’s very easy for someone sitting in a crowd to say to themselves, “Wow, that sounds like a great idea… for someone else.” It’s the whole phenomenon where a crowd of people will stand around watching a terrible crime happen without doing anything about it… everyone expects someone else to make the first move.
So I think you need to make it more personal. You know pretty much everyone in the parish. Write up a list of 40 people who you know are able to give $50 a month to the food pantry. If you can think of some people who could easily give $2-300 per month, even better. I want you to try some face-to-face fundraising.
Asking a person face to face is perhaps harder on you, but it really gives a potential donor the opportunity to consider making a commitment. When you’re sitting across the coffee table from Mrs. Boynton, she cannot possibly say to herself, “She’s asking somebody else to help.”
Sharing your story and your passion
I want you to think about how excited you were when you first shared this idea with Fr. Zagloba. You are going to share that same zeal and passion with each of the people you ask. Even if it is a little scary, it’s also really exciting.
So, why do you feel called to serve the hungry at St. Catherine’s? Was there some event that triggered your desire? Think about the plans that you’ve made and the preparations that are already underway.
Prepare a basic script for yourself that hits those main points. Then, pick up your phone and set up an appointment to sit down with every person on your list to tell them your story. You’re going to help them to see the big picture of why feeding the hungry is important to you, why it’s important to St. Catherine’s, and why it should be important to them.
Then ask them, “Would you be in the position to support the food pantry with a gift of $50 (or $100 or $200) per month?” Then be silent. For as long as it takes. Give them the room to think about what you’ve told them. Weigh the decision. And give you their answer.
The nice thing is there are really only three possible answers. “Yes,” after which you can rejoice and say thank you. “Let me think about it,” after which you thank them and set up a time to call them back and get their answer. And ‘No.’
What to do with a ‘no’
‘No’s are a part of the process. NO! See that didn’t hurt a bit. You will hear ‘no.’ Probably more than once. There are a couple of different ways to respond to no.
If the person seems offended that you asked them (which they shouldn’t because you should have mentioned your reason for your visit when you called to set up tea… make sure that’s in your phone script), apologize and thank them for their time. Your relationship with them is more important than your donation.
Most people say no for a reason, and you can follow-up with questions that help to bring that reason to light. For instance, if you asked for $200, and their budget just won’t stretch that much, that’s very reasonable. You might ask them if a lower level commitment would work better. It might not be a good time of the year, or they might have had some unexpected expenses pop up. Perhaps it would be ok for you to talk to them again later in the year.
If the follow-up conversation yields a hard no, thank them for their time and invite them to consider volunteering at the pantry.
Make donations easy
I’ll talk to Fr. Zagloba about including a ‘Food Pantry’ designation to the online giving options. The best way for people to give is to do it automatically through a monthly credit card or bank transaction. That way they don’t have to try to remember to send a check every month, AND you aren’t responsible for tracking anyone down if they have forgotten.
This will take some real time and effort on your part, but I think it will pay off in the long run. I’ll be praying for you.
Nathan – The Almoner
P.S. Here’s a donor tracker to make your job easier: Mrs. Sanderson’s quick and easy donor record. Put the names of the potential donors in the first column, then add information as you get it. This will just make your job easier by keeping all of your information in one place.
Need some new ideas on how to fundraise? Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook and find the fundraising strategy that will work best for you!