4 Simple Steps to Asking Individuals for Donations

Do you include face-to-face fundraising to ask individuals for donations as an integral part of your annual fund campaign?

Now, I’m not talking about going door-to-door or sitting in front of a grocery store with a can. I’m talking about individual fundraising. If you don’t know how to do individual fundraising or if you are just getting started, this post is for you.

Asking individuals for donations for your annual fund, not via email or traditional snail mail, but personally, is the most effective way to increase your annual fund (if you’re not already doing so).

Face-to-Face Asking for Donations

Here’s a quick “to do” list to get you started.

1. Identify prospective donors.

Use your database to identify your best donors. Ideally, you’ll want a list of your top 25 donors (one time gifts and cumulative giving).

2. Cultivate your top prospects.

Get to know your donors in a personal and meaningful way: cultivate your prospects and building lasting relationships. Start with your top 10 list and visit them at their home or office this fall. Ask open ended questions and find out why they give to your organization and what would make them want to keep giving. Find out if they would like to be more involved by volunteering.

3. Ask for a gift.

This is the most important step. Schedule a time with your top 10 prospects and ask for a specific amount for your annual fund. For example, “I hope you will consider supporting the after school program by making a donation in the rage of $1,000.” Do not skip this step.

4. Say thank you. Repeatedly.

Once you receive a gift, it’s important to thank your donors. Call them up, send an email, mail a letter. Once is never enough.

You won’t want to miss an AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) webinar called, Face-to-Face Basics: Integrating Individuals into Your Development Plan. I’ve done a lot of webinars over the last several years, but I’m confident that this is going to be the best webinar yet! If you only ever attend one of my webinars, THIS is the one to attend. You’ll learn ALL of the ins and outs of starting a face-to-face fundraising program.

What are the challenges you face with face-to-face fundraising? What are the reasons you can’t seem to get started? I’d love to hear about your challenges in the comments.


  1. says

    Hi Amy,

    Do you use the same strategy to raise $10,000 or $100,000? I mean donors are donors or is there something specific you have to do if the target amount is higher?


    Roger Pilon, Editor
    The Planet Fixer Magazine

    • says

      Roger – The idea is the same. Depending on the donor and your relationship, you may need to do additional research and cultivation before asking for a larger gift, but the overall concept is the same. Good luck!

  2. Rebecca says

    Thanks for your blog! It is so helpful!

    In this post, are you saying that number 2 and 3 should be done during the same meeting? And if not, how far apart should the meetings be?

    • says

      Hi Rebecca. Thanks for asking for clairfication. Cultivation and solicitation are different activities and should take place at different times. First, take time to build a relationship by getting to know your prospective donor – over coffee, by giving a tour, etc. After you feel confident that the person is interested in your cause and is willing to support – then schedule a time to discuss a gift. There is no correct amount of time. Depending on the amount of the ask, the history of the relationship, etc., it will take shorter or longer. Don’t wait too long or you won’t get around to asking. Contact me if you want more specifics! Good luck.

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