December is here and the pressure is on. You need all hands on deck. It’s time to call on your fundraising ambassadors.
Your colleagues, board members, volunteers, and loyal donors have tremendous potential to contribute as ambassadors . All they need is a little guidance to be successful.
Here are six things you can do to help your team hit the ground running:
- Share a clear call to action.
Get super-specific when you ask people to serve as ambassadors. Break your request down into small steps. For example, ask them to “email five close friends or family members and ask them for a donation during our matching-gift period” or to “discuss your passion for our organization over Thanksgiving dinner and share the email addresses of those who for want to know more with me.”
Vague requests like “spread the word” or “help us meet our year-end goals” are more likely to push prospective ambassadors away rather than mobilize them to act. The clearer you are, the more likely you are to achieve results.
- Offer training that makes it easy for your ambassadors to raise the most money possible.
The more comfortable your ambassadors are in sharing their passion and your organization’s impact, the more they’ll do it (and do it well).
Use your donor management software to identify loyal donors most likely to jump on board as effective fundraising ambassadors.
Uncover your ambassadors’ burning questions about or greatest barriers to fundraising.
When Rachel Calderon, marketing and communications manager at the Central Florida Foundation, charged Foundation board members to serve as brand champions, she asked them to share their burning questions. Their queries ranged from, “How come more people don’t know what we do and why?” to “How do we reach influencers in specific industries?”
The responses revealed collective nervousness (it’s comforting to know you aren’t alone) and enabled her to address gaps in knowledge and technique among the board members.
Asking questions is a far more reliable way to discover what’s holding your ambassadors back than guesswork, the typical method.
- Build on your fundraisers’ personal passions.
Fundraiser-extraordinaire Gail Perry designed a powerful approach to uncovering board members’ passions. It boils down to asking one question: “Why do you care?”
Gail finds that as ambassadors shares what fuels his or her passion for an organization’s work and its impact —which shapes his or her fundraising stories—“he or her re-ignites his or her own passion.” It’s a win-win.
This technique works equally well for staff (it helps staff members connect their specific function to the bigger picture), donors, and volunteer ambassadors. Don’t take my word for it; check out the People magazine piece above that highlights actress Octavia Spencer’s commitment to City Year.
- Guide ambassadors to share their passion with an ask.
Asking for money is no easy task. Sharing concrete examples will build your team’s skill and confidence in situations that are ripe for an ask. You should cover:
- What to say “as is” (your organization’s name, tagline, and positioning. statement) vs. what to say in their own words (their own stories and the ask).
- What to do when x, y, or z happens.
- Who to ask for help and how.
- What to do with any insights they gather from these conversations (these insights will guide to strengthen your fundraising approach, don’t miss out).
- Motivate them to practice, practice, practice (and more practice).
The best practice is having ambassador role play ultra-specific scenarios. Ask them to break into pairs and role play a few different scenarios you provide, taking each role so they get to stand in the shoes of their conversational partner. Then, ask a few pairs to “present” to the group to spark more questions.
Practice works well to highlight problem areas, so you can lead your ambassadors through them. Most important, practice shifts the unknown into the familiar. And comfort with fundraising is one of the greatest assets an ambassador can have.
With December in full swing, now’s the time to select and train your year-end fundraising ambassadors. Here’s to teamwork!