Would You Like Fries With That? Fundraising For Ministry

An article in Entrepreneur.com inspired some ideas that got me wondering if we’re maximizing the dollar like we should from our customers and non-profit donors. In these penny-pinching days, can the donor really cough up a few more dollars so you can feed that extra family or hire a bookkeeper?

Brad Sugars, author of numerous business start-up books, suggests that businesses (and non-profits) can add more dollars to their coffers by asking customers, “Would you like fries with that?” The basic premise of asking for that little bit extra works.

“How could that possibly pertain to a non-profit?” I can hear you asking. It’s the something extra, an add on, if you will.

For instance, in the non-profit world, everyone has gotten the call from the Fraternal Order of Police telling you why they need your money and what the money is used for. When you donate, you receive a sticker back to go on your car. They are up front about everything and they show appreciation with the stickers. Offer a sticker to the area businesses to put on their door that says “I'm pushing for ________ are you?” or “I'm pulling for ________ are you?” for a $10 donation. This gives you visibility in your community, and it's asking donors to push for you. It gives the business a great profile in the community because who wouldn't have a soft spot in their heart for a business that is helping ______________? Plus it gives you the opportunity to increase your donor list. (Would you like fries with that?)

Since you only hear from FOP twice a year (no newsletter, no updates on how your money is working) the sticker is a good thing because it gives value to you for your donation. It connects you immediately to any policeman who stops you for whatever reason no matter what state. They immediately know you support the police. That is a good thing. Of course, just because it works for the FOP, doesn't give you permission to not stay in touch with donors with thank you letters, phone calls, newsletters and such. 

The old adage of spending a dime to make a buck is true. Spending the extra for postage and phone calls will solidify your relationships and make your donors feel wanted, needed and cherished which will insure their loyalty. A non-profit needs to keep in touch with donors in order to build relationships and keep the donor fires burning. Letters, email newsletters and phone calls are particularly effective to keep the lines of communication open to let your donors know how much their donations are helping your organization. People love to know how their money is being used. 

Does your non-profit need a new copy machine, computer, fax, office furniture? Ask your donors for an extra five dollars to help pay for the new copy machine. Let them know how close you are to the goal in fundraising for what ever items your organization is needing, then ask again for an extra $5 or $10 to boost you over the top. (Would you like fries with that?)

Some of your donors will want to be so helpful that they'll offer you their equipment they are replacing. That leads to another discussion about used donated items. Those items were replaced for a reason, so emphasis on new is okay. You want something that will last and be cost efficient. So, Joe the Banker calls you up and says, “We're replacing all our copy machines, would you like the old ones?” When that happens, what is the gracious thing to do? Wouldn't it be nice to say, “We would love to have them. We're already to the half-way point in our fundraiser for a new copy machine. So I'm hoping we can put them in our auction next month to boost us over the top. Do you have any other office equipment we could add to our auction?”  Honesty is best when tendered with kindness and tact.  (Would you like fries with that?)

Sugars points out that one attorney started asking all his clients if they had an updated will, he deposited an extra $4,000 a month to his account because most of his clients didn’t even have a will. (Would you like fries with that?) 

You just might squeeze a few more pennies from your donors, but you want them to leave with a smile so they’ll keep donating. Leave them with the good taste of fries in their mouth. 

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  1. Joe_Sewell said:

    To balance your great suggestions, Gina, I need to add that a fundraising campaign needs to know when to accept “I can’t” for an answer. A community-funded radio station needs to know that asking, “won’t you consider helping us make our goal?” can come off as “you haven’t done enough, slacker!” I mentioned this to one Christian radio station that I used to support. Their comment was the typical but snide, “well, maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something.” Considering that, at the time, we couldn’t afford to give even to our church without risking missing a mortgage payment[1], I think that what the Holy Spirit was trying to say was, “back off, radio station!” They didn’t, and now that my wife has a paying job, that radio station doesn’t get our support. [1] For the “thou shalt tithe” folks, this was done with full permission & knowledge of our pastor. The reason for the crisis was mostly our own fault, but we had continued to truly tithe up until that point. Stupid here has gotten out of the habit, and keeps forgetting to get back into the habit, but that’s different.

    March 5, 2011
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  2. said:

    Amen, brother! Preach it! I agree that some non-profits (or rather some volunteers of non-profits or even employees of non-profits) do not close enough attention to the tone of voice, or to what the person on the other end is really saying. It is so sad that these cads blithely charge forward thinking they are helping the non-profit when they are hurting it far more by alienating donors. Joe, that inspires another column which I’ll get to work on Monday. You make an excellent point!

    March 5, 2011
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