How to ask for contributions

Tips for Obliteriders from a fundraising Jedi!

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Every donation to your Obliteride goal starts with one thing: Your ask. But how to make that request?

We asked Fred Hutch’s Kjell Oswald, a professional fundraiser, for advice and tips. His #1 suggestion? Believe in your mission and follow through!

Here’s more from Kjell, in his own words:

Thank you, Obliteriders, for getting out there and raising money for research at Fred Hutch!  Before I dive in, it is worth saying that there are a lot of ways to raise money for your goals. Of course, some of your success will rely on your network and on how much time you can put toward your effort. That said, I have found the following approaches important and effective:

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Believe in the organization you’re raising funds for.

Tell donors why the Hutch is worthy of their time and gift.

When you believe in the mission, and communicate that to people, they’ll feel your energy and care themselves! Learn as much as you can about Fred Hutch. An easy way to start is to check out the resources on the Obliteride Where the $ Goes page. If you’re passionate about a specific kind of research, or cancer, check on the work we are doing in that field. 

It’s not (all) about you — it’s about the cause.

And that frees you up to ask!

Remember: You’re not asking individuals to make a donation to you or to your ride. You’re asking them to join you in supporting a great organization that you believe in. When you ask, you are providing people with an opportunity to help researchers prevent, treat, and cure cancer. It’s a chance to do something amazing for a very important cause.

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Tell your story.

People want to know why you care about Fred Hutch and believe in our mission.

As I said above, the mission is not just about you. But of course, your reason for being involved is personal. Philanthropy is about trust and faith, but before you get to that point, it’s important to engage people — and your story is a powerful way to do that.

What you say doesn’t have to be too personal or a tear jerker. It just has to be authentic. Do what is comfortable for you! (If you have a picture, that is also a compelling way to share.)

Obliteride 4Ask people personally.

Personal messages are much harder for people to overlook or ignore.

You can start by sending a mass email to your address list and social media networks, and some people will donate. But you’ll be missing a big opportunity to connect with people and vastly improve your success!


Obliteride 5It’s OK to be specific about what you’d like people to donate.

People often appreciate knowing what number you’re thinking of!

Providing donors a suggested amount frees them from wondering if their gift is too much or too little. How to know what to ask for? I would say to trust your gut and what you know about the individual people in your network. And remember! It is not for you, so you can feel good about asking.

Keep your community in the loop.

Share progress updates, training photos, and more.

Write fun emails that share the distance you are doing in Obliteride, along with your fundraising goal. And, each time you reach out to someone, talk again about Fred Hutch’s mission and the huge impact your supporters are having.  (Our researcher videos are a great way to share this in less than a minute!)

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Be pleasantly persistent.

It’s OK to continue to reach out to people until they respond — and you can do this very pleasantly AND give people an easy way out.

Everyone is busy with their own priorities and responsibilities, so things can fall off their radar. Don’t equate a lack of response to a negative one. For example, if you’re sending a second email to someone, you might write: “I know that this is a busy time, so I wanted to float this back to the top of your inbox!”

Sharing training and fundraising updates is also a great way to gently prompt people. Finally—don’t underestimate the power of a deadline. Tell people when things are getting urgent. People will often wait until the last minute to take action, and if they are unaware of the impending closing date, they will stay on the sideline, and you will miss out!

A final note

There are lots of ways to be successful in your fundraising efforts, and I am always amazed and inspired by Obliteriders’ creativity and passion. This year, as always, I can’t wait to see what all of you do — and to incorporate what I learn from your unique efforts into my own approach.

Thank you so much for all of your passion and efforts on behalf of Fred Hutch Obliteride! Good luck as you continue your fundraising and training!

Kjell photo

About the Author:

Kjell Oswald is an associate director of philanthropic gifts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

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