After our Year End Peer to Peer and Email Fundraising Strategies Workshop we had a lot of questions about crafting your year end fundraising asks. So I held a challenge on my Facebook Group, Nonprofit Marketing With Purpose, with three short videos to watch with assignments to complete over 3 days. Now did that Oct. 1 so it's all over now but I thought I'd share the 3 part recipe and idea starters to get you moving in the right direction with your year end fundraising ask so you can use it too.

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Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

A 3 Part Recipe to Craft Your Year End Fundraising Ask

After our Year End Peer to Peer and Email Fundraising Strategies Workshop we had a lot of questions about crafting your year end fundraising asks. So I held a challenge on my Facebook Group, Nonprofit Marketing With Purpose, with three short videos to watch with assignments to complete over 3 days. Now did that Oct. 1 so it's all over now but I thought I'd share the 3 part recipe and idea starters to get you moving in the right direction with your year end fundraising ask so you can use it too. I am going to walk you through the recipe I found on GivingTuesday.org:

  1. Define the problem you're solving for the community and the world.
  2. Show donors they are the solution to that problem.
  3. Prove your organization is the right middle man to make the solution happen.

Full warning though...while that is an amazing order to present the recipe in, the actual cooking instructions (well at least the ones I use) require me to do steps 1 & 3 first and then tie it all together with step 2 at the end. Confusing enough? Let's dig in.

Part 1: Define the problem. 

The one you solve for your community or the world.  

The problem you present to your donors is not the problem you’re solving internally in your organization.  You may need to get more funding to hire another person or pay the rent.  But the rent, that person, they’re part of solving the bigger problem, the problem you founded your organization to solve to begin with.  

Your problem should be something a person not familiar about the intricacies of your organization can understand. 

  • Don’t use proprietary language.  
  • Keep it SIMPLE.  
  • We all want to wax poetic stanzas but those require interpretation by the end user. 
  •  People need to be able to read the problem and know what it is immediately.

ALL of these ideas don’t need to be in your problem, they're for inspiration.  You’ll choose one or two that best fit your organization and to communicate with your audience the problem you’re solving for your community or the world. 

Idea Starters! 

Focus on the good you do for the world and your community. 

  • Ask yourself WHY you do what you do?  
  • What makes it important?  
  • Somewhere in the answer to that question will likely be the problem you solve.

Consider how COVID-19 has affected your organization.

  • Has it increased the need for your services?  
  • Has it decreased your funding because of missed fundraising events and opportunities?  If so how has that decrease in funding impacted your ability to carry out your mission?  How has it impacted our community or the world?
  • While your ask doesn't have to be COVID related, if you have been impacted by the pandemic that is a problem your audience can certainly relate to.

Learn more about how to address COVID related or donations to cover admin costs.

Don’t be afraid to make it specific.

The problem in your end of year ask doesn’t have to be all encompassing of everything you do.

  •  If you provide a variety of services you may have multiple asks - one for each service. 
  • We can’t assume that our audience understands EVERYTHING we do.  So it makes sense to ask each audience for something they can relate to.  
  • “Families in our community need [specific service]. Currently we serve [amount] but more applications come in everyday. That means [what happens when families don’t get the service?]” 
  • If you don’t have time to create multiple asks then focus on the one that will resonate most with your audience.

Can you share the problem as the beginning of a story?  

Do you have a specific example of a situation you solved that start with the problem?  Then you could use the story throughout your ask to pull it all together. 

Is there specific data you could share to help define the problem?  

A percentage of the population who experience the problem, or a % or # increase in demand for your services?

Part 3: Establish why your nonprofit is the right middle man to provide a solution to the problem.

I know, I know we skipped part 2! That's because you'll do that next when you edit your ask :-) I think it's easiest to lay all the facts and ideas on the table and then edit them together to put the donor front and center as I edit.

Idea Starters:

Again, you don’t have to do all of these things!  Actually please don’t.  That would make your ask way too long.  And you want to keep it relatively short. People don’t want to read a paragraph or listen to multiple minute elevator pitch.

These are just idea starters to jumpstart your process.  You’ll likely only pick one, maybe two of these ideas that work best to communicate your nonprofit as the solution to the problem and implement them.

How is your organization solving the problem, why is it the right way?  

If there are other organizations or entities solving the same problem you’re tackling, how are you doing it better?  Or how are you filling in the gaps they have left in their services?

Consider sharing outcome statistics.  

How did your organization impact the community this year?

  • How many people you served in 2020
  • Changes statistics in 2020 vs 2019 due to COVID.

Learn more about how to use statistics to tell your story.

You might explain what you plan to do with your funding.

  • Provide specific supplies needed
  • Provide [# amount] more service
  • Seve [# amount] more patrons

You could share your longevity.

If you’ve been serving your community for a while you may have a great track record and established processes that could yield great results if only you had more funding.

Step 3: Show donors they are the solution.

Now it’s time for a bit of editing.  

Remember your donors are PART of your success.  We want to communicate with them like they’re members of our team. Their donations will be doing the work.  Today you’ll read over your work and consider your phrasing, can you adapt it to put the donor front and center in your story?

Grammar Lessons from Monica

I'm mostly a self taught writer.  So this grammar lesson is going to be a limited one. Here’s what I know...

Human beings are pretty self centered so most of us tend to write in first person.  

Your ask is likely in first person plural right now. Telling the story using “we” as the pronoun. But your donor is the hero in this ask so your ask may be better expressed in the second person point of view.  

First person pronoun = I, me, my

First person plural pronouns = we, our, ours

Second person pronouns = you, your, yours

If it floats your boat, learn more about points of view.

Second person point of view has some benefits:

  • It creates a conversation with the person you’re writing to
  • It tends to craft a more approachable message, less formal than some other points of view
  • It ensures you’re telling the story from your donors point of view

Let's look at a few examples.

For example instead of saying:

We provide tutoring for our community's youth.


We want to feed 20 more families through the winter.

You might say:

Your donation will provide tutoring for our community’s youth.


Will you help us feed 20 more families this winter?

See how that adjusted phrasing makes their donation the solution for the problem? Your organization is the one making it happen but you can’t do it without the donation.   You are the cart, they are the horse.  Let the horse pull the cart in your wording.

Clearly ask them for a donation.

Don’t leave it up to their imagination.  ASK for a donation.  You can even ask for a certain amount of money.  The clearer our instructions the more likely you are to get the outcome you desire.

Proof for jargon.

Make sure it’s free of jargon or terms the general public would not understand.

Read it all out loud.

Can you say it easily?  If not, keep editing!  It’s not done until it rolls off your tongue!

Related Resources

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