Making the Request

The latest news for our country seems to be a bit more promising than in recent weeks and certainly we are hoping to begin to move towards recovery sooner rather than later. We are always moving forward, and the team at Ashley|Rountree has been making many calls to former and current clients. What we are hearing is that while the initial shock may be beginning to wear off, an understanding of the impact these times are having is becoming clearer, and organizations are starting to look ahead and lay the groundwork to be able to meet mission and need. Initially, many nonprofit leaders may not have been prepared to discuss finances or even request support from donors. Now because of strong general initial communication and an assessment of need, many groups are in a place where they can begin talking more clearly about specific needs related to funding.

Recently, Ashley|Rountree partnered with AFP-Greater Louisville and held a webinar about fundraising during COVID-19. (Find a link HERE for free access to the webinar.) We asked participants to send in questions prior to the webinar and found that many were asking about how to tactfully make a request. Tactful is the operative word here. The fact is that many donors – whether its individual donors, corporate donors or foundations — are also experiencing tough times in various ways even beyond financial pressures. You certainly need to be thoughtful and considerate, listen to what they are experiencing and see where you can help – it’s about relationships after all. And, you can do a lot now to lay groundwork for current and future fundraising success. This is not the time to remain quiet and think you need to wait for a stronger fundraising environment.

  • We have been saying this and will repeat – Contact your major donors. Call, do not email. Inquire how they are doing and converse freely. Then let the individual know what you are experiencing. Prepare your facts in advance – focus on examples of programming you might currently be doing; but also tell the person there may be tough times. Be open about furloughs or lay-offs and other tough decisions that are being made. If they don’t pick up, leave a message letting them know you are thinking of them and their family.
  • For direct-mail solicitations use similar language from above. Keep your message concise and simple. If you are continuing to program or help with outreach efforts, talk about that, include images if possible. And if your organiztion has faced some serious issues as a result of COVID-19, tell that story but do not overdramatize. Consider how your mission is in action now. Highlight the importance of the continued impact your organization is making.
  • Some additional specific advice – review your list of donors and if any give from a Donor Advised Fund, contact those individuals immediately. Those gifts are waiting to be distributed and need to be made. And contact your long-term donors as well – they’ve been with your organization through many years, they believe in your mission, and they will continue to believe in and support it. This will lead to Planned Giving opportunities down the road.

I am fortunate to have a strong team of professionals working with me at Ashley|Rountree. If you have used our services in the past, then you understand the insights we provide to nonprofits. We recently reviewed our services and we want to bring that expertise to all who need it. With that, I am pleased to announce that we have a Targeted Resource Recovery Plan available to any nonprofit at a reduced rate. At least one consultant will work with an organization for a three week period for 15-20 hours of counsel. We will assess, evaluate, and provide a highly intensive plan-of-action to address opportunities for your nonprofit. The discounted cost for this impactful scope of work is a flat fee of $2,950, and if needed we can spread the payment over a period of months. High value and high impact. Please find this service outlined HERE.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts. My direct email is