Asking your networks for money for your favorite cause: Ask Amber

by Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

An article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, mentioned in last week’s Ask Amber, demonstrates the importance of engaging donors under 35. While young professionals tend to give less because of financial constraints, they are great allies to nonprofits because they encourage their networks to give. Younger donors enthusiastically share their favorite causes with friends and family members in hopes they will also support the organization and its mission. If you want to involve your network in your philanthropic efforts, here are some strategies you can use.

Have an elevator speech ready
If you’re job hunting, you are probably quite familiar with “elevator speeches,” which allow you to quickly and succinctly describe yourself and your qualifications. Similarly, you should have an elevator speech ready to describe the organization you want your friends involved in, what program(s) you think your friends will identify with most and why it’s close to your heart.

When introducing your friends to an organization, it’s important not to overwhelm them. This isn’t the occasion for a PowerPoint and of materials. This speech should be something easy to bring up in casual conversation, write into a Facebook post or even a text. That being said, you should obviously be well-versed in more details about the organization in case your friends do have questions and want to find out more.

Use technology to your advantage
Social media is a great resource for sharing news about organizations you love and inviting friends to fundraisers you plan to attend. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow you to share information quickly with lots of potential donors. Be sure that you aren’t just posting links— add a personal note calling your network to action. Make your appeal personal, describing why you love the cause and why your friends will love it too.

Social media is not the only resource at your disposal. Don’t overlook other platforms that can yield powerful results. In this sincere and humorous TEDx presentation, Taylor Conroy shares his various experiments in getting friends to give. Among the ideas is a simple, yet very effective, strategy to ask friends to give via text. Using a casual text to close friends asking for help raising money worked for Conroy because friends felt that they were part of a group and that they were being personally recognized (among the five factors he outlines). You can easily use this method, sending a text or email to friends identifying how they can help you achieve a tangible outcome for a good cause by combining their collective resources.

Make the appeal personal
One of the reasons Conroy’s appeal was so successful is because he tailored his request to his group of friends (using inside jokes and such) AND to each individual. He cites individual recognition as one of the five factors that make people give. Break down giving into an amount you know is reasonable for your friends (micro giving) and thank each person individually for their contribution toward a common goal. In Conroy’s case, he made a video appeal to each friend, but obviously you can be as creative and personal as you want with the recognition piece.

Even if you cannot personally give large amounts of money to charity, you can still make a HUGE difference by combining your passion and creativity. Use your large network of coworkers, family and friends to capitalize on young professionals’ natural philanthropic spirit and community-centered approach.

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