For the past year, a friend and I have scheduled a 6-10 mile hike once per month, using our little strolls to explore the beauty and bounty of the greater Bay Area. So far, we haven’t come close to running out of options.
This hiking business is kind of amazing to me because I am not what you would call a natural athlete. I’m not generally the one to choose the longer trail, the harder climb, the most challenging terrain. But lately, I’ve found something interesting happening. When given the chance, I’m taking the longer route, opting to double the duration or choose the steeper climb. As my stamina grows, my hikes get better. I’m even joining a gym today so that I can work out more and get stronger.
So what does hiking have to do with fundraising? Endurance. The more I do, the better I get. The better I get, the more I want to do. It’s simple, really. The more you ask, the better you get at it, the better you get at asking, your timing improves, you become more agile, your listening skills gain power, and your endurance takes your further than you’ve gone before.
Asking for money is like building a muscle: at first it may be painful but the more you suck it up and just do what you know needs doing, the easier it gets. Research has shown that most people are capable of giving up to five times the amount of what I call their “go away” money. This is the exact amount they think will make you shut up and go away. If making the big ask requires more endurance than you’ve currently got, work your way up to it.
Here are five ways to build your fund-raising muscle:
- Go for the sure deal. Ask for a renewal gift.
- Go for the stretch gift: ask for double the last gift.
- Find out what your prospect’s peers are giving and tell them those amounts before asking them to match their friends.
- Team up. Choose a donor with ‘skin in the game’ and ask them to accompany you on a prospect meeting. This gives you instant and subtle credibility. Plus it’s harder to say no to a peer.
- Make at five asks in one week. Keep up the pace for a while and then double it. Then keep it up and double it again until you no longer fear the ask. . .you crave it!