Asking | Make the Iron Hot by Striking

This photo is from the website of National Geographic and is called, "Inishowen" (Dave Johnston).

This photo is from the website of National Geographic and is called, “Inishowen” (Dave Johnston).

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”

William Butler Yates, Irish poet (1865-1939)

I wrote this article on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog for a prior St. Patrick’s Day. I liked it so much, however, I decided to keep it as a separate blog page.

St. Patrick is remembered as a humble, pious and gentle man. He feared nothing, not even death, as Catholic Online reports in its Saints & Angels section. I suspect if he were alive today, he would not fear asking for donations, either.

The quote above by revered Irishman William Butler Yates brings to mind the thought that while nonprofit organizations must be careful not to solicit donations without proper advance preparation, when donors become interested in the work of a nonprofit organization and they are genuinely excited about being involved and helping, nonprofits should not be shy about asking for financial or other assistance. One must make the iron hot by striking!

I personally have never found a donor to be insulted by being asked. Most are flattered that you would think of them as able to help, even if they cannot make the commitment the nonprofit ultimately hopes for. Yet, one of the most common fears voiced by my nonprofit colleagues (staff and volunteers), is that they find it hard (even terrifying) to “ask.”

Brian Saber of Asking Matters notes there are five main things to remember when it comes to asking:

  1. There is no right way to ask.
  2. You are only the messenger.
  3. Your main role is to ask questions that engage the donor and to listen.
  4. Asking for the meeting is the biggest ask.
  5. Focus on the vision and impact.

On another note, an article I wrote when I first launched Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog discusses anonymous giving (with additional resources at the conclusion). Follow the link to read, Listening to Donors and “Serendipity” Happens. Sometimes you might not ask, but you just might receive, because you have inspired someone by the good work you are doing.

While I am on an Irish theme, I wanted to point out a terrific nonprofit support organization that serves Irish fundraisers, Charities Ireland Institute. They seem to have both a modern and traditional approach to fundraising, which is my style exactly! Keep the tried-and-true, I say, but don’t be left behind. Make use of new methods, too.

Guímid gach rath agus tú!

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