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How to Ask for BIG Donations: 5 Quotes from Six-Figure Donors and the Lessons You Can Learn from Them


There’s a lot to be learned from individuals who have “done it before," from the Jeff Bezoses who started world-changing businesses within a generation, to the Warren Buffets who’ve artfully mastered the creation of wealth, and the Thomas Edisons who’ve failed so many times that the successes they’ve had are among the most significant in human history.

In truth, the key to success in anything is simple:

Find someone who’s done it before and do exactly what they did.

And fundraising is no different.

Asking for money from fellow alumni, friends, family and strangers can be difficult—especially when large sums of money are involved. In fact, we’ve written on the topic extensively.

However, soliciting donors for the big bucks, the donations that really move the needle isn’t as difficult or intimidating as it may seem. You just need to see how others have done it before—and thankfully the most important lessons will come from the donors themselves.

To make your big-ticket fundraising process a bit easier, here are five quotes from six-figure donors and the lessons you can learn from them.

5. Success requires someone to make a sacrifice.

The Quote:

“With any organization you’re affiliated with, you should want to do more than your share. Don’t be afraid to reconnect by either volunteering your time or contributing to the campaign. Just take that first step; you’ll be glad you did."

The Meaning:

It isn’t easy to achieve success. It requires work, discipline, and most importantly, personal sacrifice. To achieve something great, to be truly successful, you’re going to have sleepless nights, exhausting days, missed opportunities, and days that just plain aren’t fun. But the end result is meaningful. You’ve put the time in to create something...to have made a contribution. And the knowledge that the success of your organization, volunteer initiative or fundraising campaign couldn’t have been possible without something stepping up feels good.

Especially when that person is you.

The Lesson:

Leaders often understand that if something is going to be successful, a few highly capable individuals are going to have to do more than their share.

4. A legacy can motivate for generations to come.

The Quote:

“The chapter is in a strong position and we need to support our young brothers to keep the tradition alive, just as our founding fathers did before us. When I visited, the undergraduate members were high-caliber men with good reason, and couldn’t have been more polite. Brothers, I encourage you to donate. Keep our chapter on campus and allow it to thrive. By donating, you will be a part of the legacy of our chapter.”

The Meaning:

What we leave behind has real meaning. Whether it’s our families, our accomplishments, or even possessions. What we do during our time here, and what will come after, have motivated men and women since the dawn of civilization.

And those drivers still apply to today. When alumni or alumnae have passed through the undergraduate chapter, that kinship and nostalgic connection to their organization is still there. The experiences they had in these chapters are still very much a part of who they are and many would jump at the opportunity to contribute to the next generation.

Through donating to the active chapter or the governing alumni association, you can give these members the ability to contribute to a legacy, the future of the chapter, and the well-being of its members.

The Lesson:

Leaving a legacy is a key motivator to major donors—especially older alumni/ae.

3. Be personal. People connect with people.

The Quote:

“I knew I would be donating, and I even had a figure in mind. Then a brother visited and, after we talked over lunch, I doubled the figure. There are many great things this fraternity does for our young members.”

The Meaning:

We’re all human here, which means we’re social animals by nature. We need the basic tenets of connection: to be acknowledged, appreciated, and recognized. And more often than not, this just means making an effort to form a personal connection—even briefly—with the members from whom we wish to ask for money.

The Lesson:

People give to people. In this example, a personal touch caused someone to double their gift (which, for a 6-figure gift is at least a $50,000 impact) just by having lunch!

2. A small act now can mean big changes for the future.

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The Quote:

“I think it’s great for the young women in the chapter right now to see how many alumnae still consider the sorority a valuable part of their lives, both now and while they were on campus. Donating is the best possible way for us to provide for the future of the chapter, and to ensure the best experience for the members now and those to come.”

The Meaning:

Supporting a capital campaign is a good way to set a good example. It’s also a good way to make good on your word in your pledge to lifelong support of your organization, and to show that Greek bonds live beyond college days alone. 

The Lesson:

Your contribution counts. The biggest waves are made of millions of drops of water.

1. A strong sense of duty can be a powerful incentive.

The Quote:

“I learned a lot through my education at the university, but I learned as much or more by being a part of a fraternity and interacting with the brothers. That was an extremely valuable experience that helped me enter the workforce and grow. I feel indebted to the chapter for that experience, and it’s nice to be able to give back to something that has helped you over the years.”

The Meaning:

Integrity. Whatever our personal code of honor is, it makes us feel good about ourselves when we follow it. For many alumni and alumnae, a sense of respect and corresponding urge to support the chapter they came from can generate an inherent source of duty; a feeling of owing a certain responsibility to maintain the values and quality of the chapter they left.

If you want to encourage members to donate based on duty, utilize the feeling of nostalgia to promote connection to the organization.

The Lesson:

Duty is another key driver for many givers.

For free resources, guidance, and other materials to help you with your engagement efforts.
Call 1.785.843.1661 or contact us directly here.


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