How To Ask For Donations


Donations are an important aspect of operating any nonprofit. In fact, over half of nonprofit revenue comes from some form of donation. Clearly, donations are the difference between keeping a valued nonprofit operating and shutting their doors.

Asking for donations can be one of the most difficult tasks faced by nonprofits. Not only are there countless nonprofits all looking to get the attention of donors but the public has become more aware of nonprofits that misuse funds and, in turn, have begun to scrutinize their donations more closely.

This means that nonprofits have to stand out in a unique way to earn donations. Simply hoping for a big donation from a wealthy philanthropist is not going to keep the lights on.

So, how can you stand out when asking for a donation? More importantly, can you stand out in a way that leaves a lasting effect on donors who will continue to support your cause?

Let’s learn some effective ways about how to ask for donations.


1. A Unique Event That Showcases Your Organization

What does your organization do that others do not? How can you show this to potential donors in a fun, unique way?

While events like galas are great ways of fundraising, they are also very difficult to plan and don’t always give people a good sense of what your organization actually does. A unique event that ties into your operations is something that can be memorable, effective, and much easier to plan than a massive gala-like event.

Some groups have done “bail and jail” events where local celebrities and public figures must earn bail before being released. Not only is this a unique event with great photo opportunities but the “jailed” people quickly take to social media to try and earn bail money.

The result is an effective event with a massive reach beyond the normal communication channels of your organization. Best of all, the excitement created by participants costs your organization nothing out of pocket.

How could you create a unique event that ties into the work your nonprofit does?


2. Host an Item Donation Event

Sometimes people want to donate but they simply don’t have the funds on hand. However, almost everyone has extra items around their house that they would be willing to donate.

volunteers gathering donation boxes

Hold an event where people can drop off unwanted, good condition items that your nonprofit can turn around and sell for cash. With online trading or auction sites becoming more popular, there are endless ways to sell items quickly and easily.

Facebook Marketplace is a great place to begin your selling journey and you know that most people will be a local buyer which reduces the need for packing and shipping. Simply list the items, field offers through Facebook Messenger, and then have buyers come pick up the items. The amount of effort required to earn this type of donation is minimal.

If possible, have someone on hand quickly research the cost of items. Some niche items may fetch a large price on an online store like eBay where there will be more buyers interested in the item.


3. Attract the Foodies to Your Event

There aren’t many people that will say no to a good meal. Even less people will say no when the meal is for a good cause.

food event

Events like chili cook-offs are a popular, tried and tested way of getting people to come out, donate, and experience the tastes of your community. Of course, there are plenty of other food related events beyond just chili cook-offs.

Try to think of an event that will get local businesses and restaurants on board in some sort of friendly competition. Not only will you bring out their competitive nature but you will also get more attention as businesses and restaurants share their activity with followers and fans on social media.

Another great example you can use is a wing-tasting event where awards are given out to local restaurants. Encourage the public to vote on their favorite chicken wing and have local celebrities judge the winner for best wings in the city.

With an event like that, every restaurant in the city that serves chicken wings will want to be involved. You may want to invest in a trophy that can be handed out year after year if you are thinking of making this an annual event.


4. Public Art Submissions

“Public art submissions” has so many different directions you can go. The obvious way of using art as a donation would be to auction off paintings and photos to raise money. While that could be very effective, it’s not the only way to get artists involved and build awareness.

Art  Auction for a casue

Nonprofits could hold open submissions for content that can be used to help with promotion. Everything from eye-catching poster designs to viral videos to unique t-shirt designs could be used to help gain donations.

A public voting period would build hype, get artists involved in the process, and, best of all, your nonprofit would end up with some stunning artwork that could be used to help build the profile of your organization in the community.

Remember: not all donations have to be monetary in nature. Gifts of artwork could reduce marketing costs in the future and the selection process could be a marketing campaign in itself.


5. Collaborate With Local Celebrities and Figures

Finding a fun idea to collaborate with local celebrities on is an easy way to increase attention for your organization. Use the collaboration to create something that people in your area will want to own. The funds raised by selling the final product will help boost donations while donors get a fun piece to take home and keep.

celebs in  cookbook

A great example of a collaborative project is a cookbook. Everyone, even those who can’t cook well, will have a recipe that they love and want to share with the world. More importantly, people will want to try recipes from their favorite radio station announcers, television personalities, and local politicians.

The time commitment for something like this is minimal on the part of local celebrities and they would probably be very happy to donate the small amount of time it takes to come up with a recipe. If they choose to share the cookbook on social media then the free marketing is just the cherry on top.

Don’t want to create a hard copy book? Build the cookbook into an eBook and charge people to download the book or sell the book on Amazon, although you will pay fees from each sale if you go that route.

Of course, a cookbook isn’t the only collaborative option. A fun children’s book with illustrations from public figures is another great idea. Your only limit about what to collaborate on is your own imagination. Have fun and take input from the people you are bringing on board to collaborate with. The more connected they feel to the project the more they will promote it.


Be Creative and Have Fun

happy volunteer for fundraising

When many people think about how to ask for donations they think of simply going door to door or making cold calls to people. The truth is that there are creative ways to ask for a donation. In many cases, the money exchanging hands may not seem like a donation because the donor is getting something in return.

Most importantly, you want the donation process to be memorable for donors. Simply donating some cash is becoming less and less popular with other exciting donation methods available. There are countless nonprofit organizations asking for funds, how will you make your organization stand out?

Be creative and have fun: that’s the motto for the modern nonprofit. Building a reputation as an organization that thinks outside the box with fundraising methods is a marketing plan that you cannot attach a value to. Will your nonprofit be known as the group that asks for donations or the group that earns donations – because there is a difference.

That’s the final lesson to take away from this piece. The topic isn’t how to ask for donations but rather how to build excitement so that people donate without even feeling like they are donating. The methods listed above help break down the donation barrier and make it easier for people to get involved and support your nonprofit.

Take these ideas, make them yours, and build something exciting.