Ask for what they have, not what you need

One of the biggest lessons I learned from being a CMO for multiple organizations is this:

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“To get money, ask for advice. To get advice, ask for money.”

People don’t want to be told how to spend their money. They want to be told how their life can be better if they engage with you.

And it seems that this important lesson has not been adopted in certain sections of the marketplace.

Churches, universities, healthcare, tech… and non-profit.

The reason this matters so much in the not-for-profit world is because people don’t want to just check a “I gave to charity” box. They want to feel good about giving.

That requires that we meet them where they are.

A great way to do that is to break down what they have to give vs. what you want to ask for.

You don’t have to be super sophisticated either.

Take a non-profit that gives food out to the homeless. Traditional methods would have you ask for donations to “help feed the homeless.”

That is a great cause to support. It is a need that is real and people can feel very altruistic giving to an organization like that.

But what if they’ve already spent their charity money?

Do we just give up, or move on?

What if we tried a different approach instead? If we are giving out food on the streets, then we might need some other important things very consistently.

  • Bags to carry food - Who has large quantities of bags? Grocery stores, Walmart, Costco, second-hand stores, other food pantries. Why not ask them for bags instead of money?
  • Vehicles to transport food bags - What might you need for the vehicles? Gasoline, tires, regular maintenance, a garage to keep them in, even the vehicles themselves. Ask gas stations for gift cards. Make a deal with Discount Tire to put their logo on your van if they donate tires for it each year.
  • Volunteers to do the driving - Have you ever thought about asking college students in social service departments to drive for independent study credits? Could Uber or Lyft drivers take short trips between shifts?

There are a number of ways to fill a need for your organization.

The BEST way to fill those gaps on a regular basis is to think outside the box. Here is a great formula to get started with today:

  1. List all the items you need to run your organization.
  2. Brainstorm as many ways as possible to fill those needs (not just money).
  3. Make a list of places to ask to fill the need.

Have you done any creative resource hunting?

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