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How to Raise Nonprofit Seed Funding by Phone

Want to raise fast cash for your new nonprofit? Here’s a simple, proven way to get the most money for the least effort – hands down.

When you’re starting out, the lowest-effort/highest-yield activity is …(drum roll please)…take a guess…

  • in-person?
  • email?
  • social media?
  • direct mail?
  • events?

None of the above. It’s your smartphone.

But instead of doing comfy things that don’t put you on the spot, like texting or emailing, you need to actually use your phone for…get this…

…calling people! How quaint.

But why?

There’s an easy principle you can apply to any relationship dynamics, regardless of raising money or just being a good family member or neighbor. When it comes to communication method:

More personal (phone, in person)>less personal (email, text, broadcast)

Here’s the other thing about phone calls: People have become accustomed to bad phone etiquette: Automated calls, pushy cold-callers who don’t shut up, dinnertime interruptions, and just plain disrespect.

All you need to do to stand out as a better person and organization than most of the other people your would-be donors encounter…..and don’t do any of the above!

Let’s go over the acrostic I use to teach preparation for fundraising: F.U.N.D.S.

  • FEAR: Confront and overcome it. In short, you’re trying to change the world and have no time to waste.  You need to understand:
    1. Most people are looking for more meaning in their lives (and aren’t able to do as much as they would like in their current job, or are too busy)
    2. Many spend money on things they don’t need, only to get less satisfaction than they would get out of your monthly newsletter about how they helped save a child or animal
    3. If you aren’t willing to ask for money, you don’t have enough belief in your cause
  • USE OF FUNDS: The Problem, the Solution and Your Unique Approach. Simply make a list of the things you’d like to accomplish over the next 60 days.
  • NUMBER: How much hard cash in the bank do you want to have at the end of this campaign? Base this on the list you made above.
  • DIVERSION: Set a little reward out for yourself.
  • SPACE: Set up a quiet dedicated place and a time that will be free of interruption.

Now that you’re prepared, here are the 10 Steps to Raising Nonprofit Seed Funding by Phone

Step 1: Build your “house file” A “house file” is just a fancy word for supporter list. First, “brain dump” your list of names. Get out a piece of paper, or create an spreadsheet and make a list of the names of your friends, your friends’ parents, your parents, your parents’ friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, former employers, Scout or sports team leaders, civic group or church members, local leaders, teachers and anyone who has mentored you…along with anyone else you can think of that has more than zero dollars in their bank account.

IMPORTANT: Do not avoid people based upon your perception of their interest in supporting your particular cause. Remember, the reason they give is not always because of your cause, but because it’s you. These people are your “prospects”.

Step 2: Look up the contact information. Doing this separately will allow you to come up with a bigger list.

Step 3: Determine a Dollar Amount for each prospect: If you’re having a hard time coming up with an amount, estimate how much you think they spend going out to dinner in a given month and multiply that number by three. Now take that number and double it. Yes, double it. Write down twice as much as you believe that person can reasonably give. That number is your “ask” amount.

Step 4: Write your first fundraising “script”. Your script should consist of 3 main parts:

  1. Introduction and Rapport – Introduction and letting the person know the nonprofit you’re representing.
  2. Introduction and Rapport – Introduction and letting the person know the nonprofit you’re representing.
  3. The Case – What your nonprofit does and why they should donate. Structure it with “The Problem”, “The Solution” and “What your nonprofit organization does and why it’s unique”. If you can give an example of how it worked, do it.
  4. Close -This is the part most people need to work on. You have to ssk for help. For example “As you agreed, we have the solution, but we can’t do it without your help.”

The most important thing to remember with your script is to ask for a specific amount of money, for a specific project, to accomplish a demonstrable result. It should also be as brief as possible. You have a lot of calls to make, and people are often busy, so do not waste time.

Step 5: Make your calls: Set your reward out in front of you (premium whiskey, ice cream….). You’re not allowed to touch it until you’ve made at least 2 calls. Make the Ask. Then BE QUIET….no matter how awkard it might get.

Step 6: They will give excuses: Acknowledge objections and calmly ask again.

Step 7: Thank the No’s: Be generous with a verbal recognition of your gratitude. Not only is it good manners, but they might donate in the future.

Step 8: Send Remittances: Send online payment links or a mail package to the “Yes” and “Maybe” crowd so they have all the information they need to donate.

Step 9: Follow Up: Every week, call the list of “Yes’s”and “Maybe’s” until you receive their funds.

Step 10: Thank every donor: In a special, personal way from the HEART, remind them of the difference they’ve made! Do it in writing. A thank you card/letter goes a long way, especially in this digital age.

The procedure outlined above has helped thousands of people raise money for their nonprofits. Give it a shot and let us know how it works out for you.


Jacqui Long | Communications | Yippiekiyay

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post.

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