Skip to main content

Practicing the Ask

By January 19, 2011October 14th, 2014Best of Withisms, Communication, Fundraising

practicingtheask20Jan11This week I had the honor of co-delivering a mini-workshop about how to deliver a powerful and successful 2, 5, or 10 minute presentation to a prospective funder with colleague and friend, Barbara Haley, from SteppsUp.

Our task was to help the nonprofit organizations in the Red Wing, Minnesota area get ready for their annual United Way presentations next month.

We provided some reminders and some Do’s and Don’ts about asking for money in person. Slides from the session can be found here. Then, using Flip cameras, we videotaped as many of the speakers as possible while they practiced their presentations. Videotaping is a really great way to see what habits you have that you may want to change.

And as we all know, practice makes perfect.

Here is some feedback we gave to those practicing their presentations:

State the dollar amount for the funding request multiple times.
Don’t just say it once, all in a rush at the end of the presentation. Be comfortable conveying what your organization will do with the gift. In fact, starting off with a sentence like: “I’m here today to provide you with a compelling reason to fund our $10,000 grant proposal” is a great idea.

Talk about the impact of your work more than the features of your programs.
Funders are not as interested in the fact that you have 12 volunteers working in the crisis phone center each day. What they DO want to know is how many lives are changed or saved because of the training those 12 volunteers have. Talking about the impact and the return on investment for your work is key to providing a powerful presentation.

Share the human impact by telling a story or two about your work.
Humanizing the work you do can turn a passive listener into an excited, willing funder. Telling how little Sonia, age 4, received medical care quickly for her broken arm so her mom only had to take a half day off work is much more powerful than saying “our clinic helps families deal with medical emergencies.”

The real message in all of this is: Be comfortable with what you have to say and the best way to be comfortable is to practice. Ask a colleague or family member to listen to your “pitch” and give you honest feedback. Have them tell you the truth about whether or not their minds wandered or if you were compelling.

An easy checklist to follow when sitting in front of funding panel:

  • Be authentic.
  • Listen to their questions.
  • Speak clearly about the impact of your work.
  • Remember to ask for the gift!


This post was included in Withism’s from Lori: Boldness, Clarity & Wisdom for Fundraising Professionals Making a Difference (Volume 1), now available in paperback, on Kindle, and Nook.




One Comment

Leave a Reply