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9 Tips for Soliciting Donations from Family and Friends

The holidays are upon us! For many of us this means that we'll be spending more time with our family and friends. This also means it's time for holiday fundraising. We've already covered tips for raising money during the holidays, so this year I'd like to focus specifically on how to ask for money from family and friends. We know it's difficult, but in many cases it can be a huge part of meeting your year-end fundraising goals. These are the people who care most about you and the work that you do, so they're the most likely to donate to support your art. In the spirit of asking friends and family for money, I've asked my Fractured Atlas family to pass along some wisdom about their own fundraising, especially as it relates to their friends and family.

  • "Build trust and lean into the awkwardness." - Jason Tseng Before any personal ask from friend or family, you should set up some ground rules by first acknowledging that the reason you're calling/meeting is to ask for a donation, but stress that your friendship/relationship is more important. Whether or not they choose to give will have no effect on your relationship. This isn't about emotional manipulation.

  • "Don't lose sight of your purpose." - Amanda Keating If you haven't spoken to someone in a while, you might find yourself focusing more on catching up instead of getting down to the request. You should try to avoid this tendency. The real reason you're calling or writing is to ask for them to join you in helping you make your art.

  • "Thank them within 24 hours of receiving a gift."Dianne Debicella This is extremely important so that your family and friends know you're not taking advantage of your relationship with them. They are still donors and should be thanked immediately. This can be as simple as a phone call or email, but be sure to send a formal thank you as well. There's no such thing as thanking them too much.

  • "Be Persistent. You might need to be more annoying than you want to be." -Scott Raker Because these are people you talk to on a regular or semi-regular basis, you might need to remind more than once to donate. Be sure to use their preferred method of correspondence so you can be a little more high touch without bombarding them with calls or emails they'll never answer.

  • "Keep people updated. If they don't donate the first time, they may donate later."- Juliana Steele Just because someone can't donate now doesn't mean they won't be able to donate later. Keep them updated on your progress and achievements so they know where you are in the process when they are able to give. This will help them feel more engaged in your work and let them know that donations are still needed after that first request.

  • "Make sure to follow up to see if your donor's employer has a matching gift program."  - Nathan Zebedeo It's easy money if there is an employee matching gift program and it maximizes the effect of your donor's initial contribution. Aunt Suzie will feel even more impactful if her employee can offer you funds as well.

  • "Don't send it as a holiday card - this should be separate!" - Dianne Debicella Your holiday ask should not take the place of your regular holiday correspondence. You still have a relationship with these donors that is unrelated to the fact that they've donated to support your art. By sending your ask or even your thank you as a holiday card, you're giving the impression that they donation is the basis of your relationship, which could actually deter them from donating now or in the future.

  • "Assume abundance." Jason Tseng Don't be ashamed to ask for a donation. Everyone, no matter how rich or poor can give something.  (In fact studies show that poor people who make charitable donations, donate a higher percentage of their income than rich people). Setting smaller giving levels ($1, $5, $10) can help encourage those donors to contribute. These lower levels are especially important in crowdfunding because this gives donors who contribute at the lower levels to publicly support your project without giving away their life savings.

  • "Individualize every email and correspondence." - Amanda Keating We already do this, but it's especially important when approaching your friends and family because you have an established relationship with them. These donors are just as important as those you do not know as well and your correspondence with them should reflect their importance.

Remember, every little bit helps. Regardless of whether your family and friends can contribute $1 or $1,000, you will be able to use these funds to create your art and offer these familial contributors the chance to help you do something great. You're creating a movement and your friends and family are the best people to propel your work.

Happy Holidays!