How to Raise $500 to $5000 From Almost Anyone

How to Raise $500 to $5000 From Almost Anyone

Andy Robinson

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How to Raise $500 to $5000 From Almost Anyone
A 1-Hour Guide for Board Members, Volunteers and Staff

by Andy Robinson, 109 pp.

You need money, you have a board - what's the quickest way to improve your bottom line? Hint: You go where the easier money is.

As Andy Robinson shows in How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone:

    These gifts don't require intensive research
    Donor cultivation is minimized
    Soliciting is simple and straightforward
    Your campaign can be launched, and concluded, in a span of weeks or months

In essence, Robinson has produced the Everyman's guide to asking - a proven, uncomplicated strategy for raising a substantial sum of money efficiently and in a hurry.

Written for board members, Robinson's book takes only an hour to read. Fact is, he doesn't need any longer to prepare your board and volunteers for a roll up your sleeves, down and dirty, "Hey, we just went over goal!" campaign.

About the Author

Andy Robinson, also the author of What Every Board Member Should Know, Do, and Avoid, Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise Money (with Andrea Kihlstedt) and The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances (with Nancy Wasserman), has been raising money for social change since 1980. As a trainer and consultant, he has assisted nonprofits in 40 states and Canada, leading workshops on fundraising, grantseeking, board development, strategic planning, marketing, leadership development, and earned income strategies.

He specializes in the needs of organizations promoting human rights, social justice, and environmental conservation. In addition to hundreds of local and regional groups, his clients include the American Friends Service Committee, National Wildlife Federation, Neighborhood Reinvestment, National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, where he served as training and outreach director.

You can reach Andy at

Table of Contents

  1. The money taboo
  2. Fundraising: It’s simpler than you think
  3. The word you hear most often in fundraising
  4. Where money comes from
  5. Where money goes
  6. Why $500 to $5,000?
  7. You, the philanthropist
  8. The day the beggar stopped begging
  9. “I can’t ask my friends!”
  10. “But I don’t know anyone who has money.”
  11. Prospecting: Looking beyond the locals
  12. Thy neighbor’s donor
  13. What’s the most effective way to ask for a gift?
  14. If you don’t have a goal, you won’t reach it
  15. Before you ask others, give money yourself
  16. Peer to peer fundraising: It’s not what you think
  17. Three keys: Honesty, follow-through, and reasonable expectations
  18. Act I: The letter
  19. Act II: The phone call
  20. Do I hear any objections?
  21. Where do we meet?
  22. Act III: The visit
  23. Two ears, one mouth
  24. Show and tell
  25. Name that number
  26. The gift of silence
  27. There are only three answers to the question, “Will you help us?”
  28. The installment plan
  29. After the yes: Eight questions you can ask donors
  30. Closing: Clarify your commitments
  31. Act IV: After the meeting
  32. The most meaningful thanks
  33. “We don’t have to do this all year long?”
  34. In praise of amateurs
  35. “Thank you for asking me.”


This article is excerpted from Andy Robinson's book, How to Raise $500 to $5000 From Almost Anyone, ©Emerson & Church, Publishers. To obtain reprint permission, call 508-359-0019 or email us.

Peer to Peer Fundraising: It’s Not What You Think

My friend Susan was the chief fundraiser for a nonprofit in a rural part of the country. In the course of her work, she interacted with a number of major donors.
Before launching a recent fundraising campaign, she sat down with her spouse and said, “I’m preparing to ask a lot of people for a lot of money. If I’m going to have any credibility during these conversations, we need to donate as much as we possibly can.” They discussed it and committed $2,500 – a significant gift given their economic situation.
Fast forward a few weeks: there she is, sitting with a couple in their living room, discussing the fundraising campaign. When it comes time to ask, she says, “My spouse and I are giving $2,500 to the organization this year. This is a big commitment for us. I don’t know what a comparable gift would be for you, but that’s what I’m hoping for.”
After a moment of silence, one of the donors turns to her and says, “Well, if $2,500 is a stretch for you, then we’re in for $100,000.”
My friend broke into tears – just so we’re clear, these were tears of joy – and her donors were kind enough to offer her a box of Kleenex and a comforting hand.
One of the persistent myths about fundraising is that economic peers have to be involved in the meeting. This notion is built on the persistent fantasy that, to be successful, you need a board of wealthy people who will ask their wealthy friends for money. As this story shows, the peer-to-peer concept isn’t based on wealth or the size of the respective gifts; rather, it’s based on the fact that both asker and donor are deeply committed to the mission of the organization, and both make gifts that are significant to them.
Maybe you’re not comfortable revealing the amount you give. I respect that – but you still need to find ways to inspire and challenge the donor. Here are a few other options that might work:

“As a board member, this organization is one of my top three charitable commitments. I hope you’ll consider making it one of your top three.”

“For this capital campaign, our family gave the biggest contribution we’ve ever given – and it felt good. What amount would feel good to you?”

“I thought about how much I would feel comfortable giving, and then I decided to stretch myself a little. We’re hoping for a ‘stretch gift’ from you.”
In other words, you’re only asking the donor to do something you’ve already done yourself. This gives you credibility and authority, which makes your request sound reasonable.

The story about my friend the fundraiser has an even happier ending. She stayed in touch with her donors throughout the year, building and strengthening the relationship. When it was time for the next campaign, she called to ask for an appointment.

“Are we going to make you cry again this year?” the donor asked, laughing.

Without missing a beat, she said, “I sure hope so.”