Donors, Newsletters and the Art of Asking

Tuesday May 10th, Nonprofit in conjunction with Washington Nonprofits and The Better Fundraising Company hosted a wonderful event for all upcoming and established non-profits. The event consisted of how to successfully obtain donations from donors, distinguish which donors are at one’s core, how to develop a loyal base, and how to successfully ask for larger gifts.

Intrigued with the information given, others and myself in the room furiously noted the valuable information. The most eye-opening and revealing of the Ask, Thank, Report, and Repeat presentation was the way in which newsletters should be written. The impact of a strong, heart-grabbing and attention-catching newsletter that is straight to the point can be the difference between exceeding one’s financial goals and barely reaching them.

Such a point was highlighted with the example of the special starfish. The starfish, is a symbolic story of a boy on the beach, attempting to throw all the starfish back into the ocean in order to prevent them from dying—due to the low tide and rising sun. An old man sees the boy in action and claims that there are too many starfish to save. The boy replies with a powerful statement saying that “it made a difference for that one” as he throws one more starfish into the water. The special starfish as stated by Steve, is the focal point in a nonprofit’s mission that causes the donor to want to give as well as feel as if they are making a difference rather than be given a fundcrushing (issue too big for donor to solve) problem that will overwhelm and distress. The starfish, allows the donor to feel as if they can and will make a significant impact. 

Moreover, Steve went on to talk about the ominous newsletter. While those who are younger may feel that such a method is outdated and ineffective, statistically the majority of donors are older and prefer mail gift requests. Subsequently, mail newsletters are the primary source of revenue for nonprofits.  Fundraising, Steve stated is “a knowledge issue, not a talent issue” and can be successfully implemented by getting to the point of a newsletter quickly, restating and staying on point, as well as using language that is simple enough for donors to understand. Also, the simple but effective approach of newsletters is to use pictures and drama-filled language as pictures are easier to process and writing similar to yellow journalism will catch the donor’s attention and cause them to be receptive of gift requests.

Attendee Tony Charity, a project manager looking to start his own non-profit organization, felt the event was spectacular and well organized. He stated that it was amazing how the hosts “vibed with one another” and how their energy was in sync, making the presentation feel more like a conversation due to the smooth, organic, and relaxed nature of their relationship. Tony stated that “I can be a more effective prospective fundraiser due to having the knowledge from this seminar. It’s rare I feel that I have walked away with something.”

Overall, I found the seminar to be informative and a useful source of knowledge for all non-profits to utilize in their journey in helping combat the ills within the world.

All interested definitely need to attend the next seminar as you will be sure to enjoy it just as much as all of us that attended.


By Bianca Lacey Thomas