Asking individuals for donations

Although asking individuals for donations can seem daunting, there will be people in your community with the potential to make significant gifts and really transform your fundraising.

If your church is comfortable asking individuals for donations, preparing thoroughly and making a personal approach will ensure you feel confident, and your request is more likely to be successful.

Preparations for asking for a donation

Thinking through how you build up to a donation request and setting out a plan will help build your confidence. Before you ask for a donation, make sure you have the following key points covered:

  • Case for support – it is vitally important to develop your case for support to tell your story, including providing details about your project and why your church needs donations.
  • Shopping list of items to be funded – break down your project costs, which you could match with potential donors that you identify in your research.
  • Research into potential donors – research into potential individuals who could support your church. Step 2 contains a template to support your research.
  • Practise – try to practise the meeting with a fundraising team member or volunteer; ask them to imagine being the donor and get them to prepare questions for you to answer about your church and project.

What makes a good donation request?

A good request is usually made face-to-face during a small meeting with the potential donor (if this is not possible, a video call is a good option). Once you have arranged a meeting with the potential donor, use the following checklist to help you prepare:

  • Be clear on the story – make sure you can talk clearly and confidently about your case for support.
  • Build rapport – smile, stay positive, be passionate about your project and tell them what your role in it is.
  • Make sure you have all the key information – such as project costs, plans, images, timelines, who is going to benefit from the project, and which other funders/donors are supporting it.
  • Understand your potential donor – why may they give or be interested in your church.
  • Propose a gift range – e.g. between £1,000 and £3,000, so the individual can choose how much to give.
    • Background research into potential donors should help you decide what range is appropriate to request from them. For example, if you know they have given major gifts to a local charity before, you can match your range to the size of their previous donation.
    • They may be interested in funding one or more particular elements of your project. For example, if it will cost £x to do A and £y to do B, they may be in a position to donate to one, both, or other elements that interest them.
  • Prepare for a ‘no’ – what is the worst that could happen?
    • Prepare yourself for a no and say thank you and maintain good rapport, even if it’s not the desired outcome.
  • Don’t forget to mention Gift Aid – this can increase the value of the donation with no extra effort for the giver. Your diocese or church authority may be able to support you with Gift Aid.
TOP TIP: Try to practise ahead of the meeting with a fundraising team member or volunteer; ask them to imagine being the donor and get them to prepare questions. These could be difficult questions that will really test you and help you refine your pitch before the real meeting.