Amy has worked with a variety of nonprofits across her career. I met her when she was directing the volunteer programs for a large art museum. Over the years she’s recruited and worked with thousands of volunteers and has developed a great grasp on philanthropy and fundraising. She has a deep understanding of what motivates people to come on board and support a cause.
Amy will be the first to steadfastly assure you she is not a fundraiser.
She has recruited people to participate in a number of public television funding drives, in which she too, has manned the phones. Regardless of the fact that she’s helped with auctions, events, organizes groups to attend fundraising functions and regularly makes gifts to causes she cares about, fundraising is not for her. She’d rather be a fundraising enabler. So when she attended an Ask Masters workshop, I was a little surprised.
The number one fundraising supporter
Amy had been supporting a tiny neighborhood organization for several years. They had struggled since getting established, never seeming to be able to get beyond the hand-to-mouth existence. She hoped that some encouragement to develop a strategic approach to fundraising would be just the thing to get the organization onto solid ground. So she brought some of the leadership of the organization to the Ask Masters workshop.
During the session, Amy said very little. At the end of the workshop as people were talking about what they’d learned and making plans, she asked her friends what they thought. Did they think this kind of fundraising support would be useful? Would it help them? Would it help the organization?
“Absolutely,” was the unanimous answer. Ideas began to flow about how they would adjust their fundraising, whom they would approach, how they would deliver their message. The excitement was palpable. “Great,” said Amy, “go sign up.”
The group came up short. With crestfallen expressions, the point was made that they couldn’t afford the workshops. They cost more than anything they’d ever done before. “After all,” one member commented, “we only raise a couple of thousand a year. We need to put that money into our programs.”
Your first Major Donor
Amy listened to the discussion and as it died down, quietly asked, “What if I paid for it? What if I made a monthly gift to the organization to cover the fees? I believe you will build the skills you need in the workshops and I know in my heart that you will go out with your new knowledge to raise enough to not only cover the cost of the workshops, but to grow the organization. It sounds like you think the workshops would help you, too. So… will you do that?”
Amy listened to the discussion and as it died down, quietly asked, “What if I paid for it?
In one instant, Amy had just offered to become the organization’s first Major Donor who pledged to give more in a year than all their fundraising activities combined had produced. Fundraising is scary. We find all kinds of things to do instead. But when someone stands up and believes you can do it, the thought of letting them down suddenly becomes even more unnerving than the idea of fundraising. They got started in the Ask Masters program the next week.
Amy is still a fundraising enabler.
Several months ago, I was at the end of my rope. I was frustrated with building the online version of Ask Masters and called Amy to vent. My list included myriad things beyond my control, a check sheet a mile long that covered the things I didn’t know how to do online. The world, I was convinced, was conspiring against me by making it so hard to get things done. Maybe it was time to throw in the towel.
As my litany wound down Amy just asked, “Is this important? Can you think of all the people out there who will have the chance to make their cause what it needs to be because they learned how to be great fundraisers? Ask Masters has to be accessible for that to happen. I believe it’s important to finish. You’re so close. What do you need to get there?”
I thought for a moment. What I really needed, I decided, was some peace and quiet. A retreat from all the distractions and chaos so I could focus and just get it done. I figured if I had that, I could probably get the rest of the pieces in place in about 2 months. “Great,” said Amy the Enabler. “Why don’t you come stay at my place. If I put you up for two months, will you get it done?” Amy believed. Off I went. I couldn’t let her down.
Amy shared the excitement when her cause tried their first Ask Masters request and received a gift more than 300 times what they had received in the past. She was there cheering for her friends when they graduated from the Ask Masters program. I know she will be there to see Ask Masters come online for people all over the world.
If you’d like to find out more about Ask Masters and how you can raise significant money for your cause and have fun doing it, get started with our free Ask Masters Fundraising Accelerator course. You can sign up here.
And in some small way, Amy will enable your fundraising too.