Tips for Asking Your Boss to Support Your Cause

By Laura Orella, Development + Membership Coordinator

Fundraising is incredibly intimidating for most people. This is not an unreasonable feeling; we get uncomfortable talking about money, let alone asking our boss for it. However, it is really not as nerve-racking as we build it up to be. Plus, you are asking them to invest in a great cause!

Why is investing in a great cause important?

Do Your Research

Learn more about the organization that you are asking them to contribute to. The more involved and passionate you are about the mission and the work of the organization the better you will be able to communicate the organization’s need with your boss.

To narrow the focus of the ask, know what programs this donation would fund or what recent campaigns the organization is working on. Don’t just read off the mission, they too can read a website; instead draw connections to their life be able to answer questions about the organization, and most importantly, be able to explain why their work matters to you. Showing them your personal connection to the organization will allow your boss to feel like they are not only helping the organization, but are helping you and your efforts.

Target Your Ask

Try to think about how this cause affects your boss and target your message to them. Individualize your appeal and connect the issue to their life, to them or their family, or their interests. Think about how your boss will respond to what you are telling them and be prepared to address any concerns or questions they may have, that way you won’t be nervous (or at least less nervous!) when you meet.

Why Now?

Be able to answer why they should donate now. Create a sense of urgency; is there a project that the organization is raising funds for, a pressing legislative timeline concerning the cause, or the potential for matching funds? Show that there is a pressing reason to give now rather than pushing it off and you will be more successful.

How is giving to a nonprofit related to civic health?

Ask for a Specific Amount

This can be intimidating, but asking for a specific amount is essential. Think about their capacity to give, whether they have a history of donating to nonprofits, and come up with a number that seems appropriate. This also takes the burden off your boss to figure out what size of donation is necessary; they do not know your campaign goals or what the organization needs.

Helpful Tip: Before you make your ask, check to see if your company matches donations to nonprofits. This is a great way to increase the impact of their donation and works as an incredibly persuasive selling point when you are making the ask.

Embrace the Silence

Once you make this ask, wait for them to respond, and resist the urge to fill the silence! While you are waiting for what feels like forever for an answer it is easy to talk yourself down in the moment, but do not start suggesting lower amounts or alternative ways to get involved. Give them time to think about what they are willing to give, otherwise you are losing potential funds for the organization that you want to support!

If they respond with a lower amount, it is always good to suggest committing to a monthly amount to spread out the funds, try to have the monthly amount total somewhere between your original ask and their lowered offer. Most people will give more when the gift is spread out as part of a monthly giving program than they would in one donation, convincing donors to give a little more through monthly giving. Organizations also love monthly donations as it helps them earn continuous and more reliable support.

Why is supporting a nonprofit good for your community?

Thank Them!

Whether they give or not, thank them! If they choose not to give, don’t leave the meeting on a bad note. Thank them for their time and or engaging with you on a topic that you are passionate about! If they gave, thank them! They have just helped your efforts and the organization. The non-profit will follow up with a thank you, but be sure to follow up with a letter of your own, it will be more personal and they will be more likely to support your cause in the future.