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‘The Art of Asking for Money’ by Marc A. Pitman

17/11/2018

‘The Art of Asking for Money’ is a conference given by Marc A. Pitman, international fundraising and leadership coach. It will be held on the 3rd of December at Quest Education. Marc A. Pitman explains to Agenda Culturel how asking and giving money is an ‘art’.


When there is an economic crisis that is weighing on the community and potential donors, how would you address fundraising?
I am not sure I understand the question. When there are economic downturns, fundraising is more important than ever! I think three things are vital for effective fundraising in a downturn:
1. Get clear on your “need.” You first need to be convinced that your cause is worthy of other people’s gifts. If you’re not convinced, you’ll have a nearly impossible time convincing others.
2. Remind yourself that one businesses’ “bad” economy is another’s “good” one. I’ve been fundraising through 3 major recessions. And even in the worst recession, somebody is making money. So don’t assume that just because the economy is tight for others that it is tight for everyone. And many people – for personal or religious reasons – find giving important enough to do regardless of the economy.
3. Ask. Clearly, confidently, respectfully ask. Don’t be ashamed or afraid. But don’t be a jerk. Be respectful in knowing that the person or company might have a hard time. But know that your cause is still worth considering. 

Why asking for money is an art?
Asking for money is definitely a systematic process. There are rythms and procedures and research that help ensure successful fundraising. But if all you do is “impose” systems on donors, they’ll begin to feel used. Donors are not an algorithm there to be manipulated. Donors are human beings. People to be valued. And that is the art. Learning to value people, to listen to them, to take the time to find where their values match areas of your need. 

The other part of the “art” is that fundraising tends to be sporadic. Not mechanical. Many miss this fact and end up trying to “invoice” donors…expecting donors to “produce” revenue as consistently as other revenue generating mechanisms. They don’t. Donors tend to give at various times, times we can influence but times we can never control. 

That lack of control, that trusting the art of the process, is unsettling to some.

Giving is also an art, please tell us more about it
Giving is definitely an art. I’m so glad you put it that way. I once started a guide for donors. The first rule was that no one can tell you the “right” way to give. Here in the United States and over in Great Britain, we’re seeing a lot of “donor shaming” – telling people how they should give. Telling donors they should give only to a few organizations rather than giving little gifts to a wide variety of organizations. Or telling them they should be ashamed that they’re not giving more. 

The art of giving starts with discovering what you value, care about, find meaningful in life. As you determine what you – and your loved one if you’re in a committed relationship – value, then you can decide if you want to give small gifts to many organizations or larger gifts to a few. 

But it should always be your choice. One you’re proud of and gift sizes you’re proud of. Never let others shame you into a gift. 

What are the differences between fundraising and crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a form of fundraising. But it’s a bit like sugar candy. It’s a rush that will leave you feeling hungry. While crowdfunding seems amazingly promising, the vast majority of attempts fail. 

Part of the reason is unsuspecting individuals think all that it takes to do a crowdfunding campaign is announce the need. Not true. The emphasis on the phrase “crowdfunding campaign” should be on “campaign.” Successful campaigns follow a very disciplined structure. Including not “going public” until they’ve raised 65-70% of the funding. 

Crowdfunding has a place in an NGO’s fundraising. But it should never be the only fundraising strategy used.

Is it your first time in Lebanon or in the Middle East?
This is my first time in Lebanon. And I’m so excited. I’m looking forward to seeing such a beautiful and historic city!

Do we ask for money in the same way on all continent?
Of course not. Each continent, each culture, each people group will have special ways to ask. But I’ve been teaching the Ask Without Fear® method around the world. And I’ve been honored how much it applies across cultures. Human beings seem wired for generosity. And fundraising, asking well, seems finetuned to plug into that generosity, regardless of the culture!
 

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