The best reason to ask your donors more often to give

Lots of charities are shy about asking for donations. They don’t want to mail or email too often out of fear of seeming too pushy. And even in their appeals themselves, it seems like they’re trying to work up the courage to ask, with all the hemming and hawing and beating around the bush before coming out and asking for a donation.

Why is that?

There’s no reason to feel that fundraising is manipulating or shaking down donors. The fact is that giving is good. It’s good for the person receiving the generosity, naturally, and it’s just as good for the giver. Both benefit.

Christianity says so. The Bible says “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). (link)

Judaism says so. Helping the poor is an obligation in Judaism known as “tzedakah” in Hebrew. In tzedakah, the gifts that are given to others eventually return to the giver. (link)

Islam says so. Believers are entreated to be generous. The Koran says “And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (link)

Buddhism says so. Generosity is one of the three tenants of Buddhism, stressing that the giver should feel a sense of joy before, during, and after the act of giving. (link)

Atheism says so. In fact, as this report explains, even without the heavenly reward for charitable acts that most religions promise, atheists are still generous givers. They say, “We don’t need God to do good,” pointing out that, even without belief, giving is personally rewarding. (link)

With apologies to any faith or group unintentionally omitted here, it looks like there’s one thing that people of every stripe can agree on, and it’s the foundational idea, as old as humanity, that’s it’s good to give. And if it’s good to give, then it has to be at least as good to ask.

So there’s no reason to shy away from the ask, whether it’s in a direct mail letter, an email appeal, or face to face.

Ask freely, ask enthusiastically, ask honestly, ask boldly, ask early, and ask often. Will you get a “too much mail” donor complaint here and there? Maybe. But you can’t let that dictate what you do for the far greater number of donors who welcome the opportunity to help. The larger issue is that giving is good for donors, good for your nonprofit, and good for your nonprofit’s beneficiaries. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s just plain good. And how many things can you say that about?

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