Add One Simple Message to 10x Donations From a Key Group of Supporters

For many nonprofits, there are two paths to asking a key group of supporters for a charitable donation:

One involves mind-reading, and the other is scary.

Learn how to increase your donor participation rates of a key constituent group with just an additional sentence or two.

Picture this: You have a fundraising campaign coming up. The topic of asking for employee support comes up. You freeze and shift your eyes. Asking your fellow colleagues for money?


So…what do you do?

  1. You either don’t ask for a gift at all and expect them to magically read your mind, or
  2. You ask them to death as if they were a regular prospect.

Before I get into the weeds of participation rates, let’s take a step back in time to Giving Tuesday 2019, where I was working on the annual fund team of an independent school…

It was pre-pandemic, and life was simple. Ok, maybe not simple, but it was fine.

We were blissfully fine.

I had everything ready—the e-appeals, graphics, banners, and social posts queued up.

The email lists were thoughtfully segmented, and everyone was included – non-donors as well as donors.

(We all know that Giving Tuesday is a terrific time for a second, third, or fourth gift…)

E-appeals and updates went out every few hours…

Gifts surged every time we sent an update…

My colleagues and I thought we were crushing it!

And by the end of Giving Tuesday, I had helped raise more than $90,000 for the annual fund.

This was astounding compared to the measly $2,450 my colleagues and I had raised the year before.

Huge success.

And yet, we soon realized that we’d left an unknown amount of money left on the table.

[Face palm!]

Even worse, an entire group of people was missing from our “perfectly” segmented lists!

Hundreds of people weren’t even asked to make a gift in support of the annual fund.

So who was it?

The lifeblood of the community…

230 of the most invested members of our school…

In fact, exactly ZERO of the 230 employees who arrived on campus every…single…day received this opportunity to make a charitable gift.

And I didn’t even know it until two separate friends said to me in passing the next day,

“Oh, shoot! I would’ve made a donation but I never got an email,” and

“I just figured you didn’t want my money.”


You know, fundraising for a school can feel rather straightforward at times because there is nothing on this great green earth more important to parents than their children.

But for faculty and staff—especially those who don’t have children at the school—it’s less compelling. They already give an overabundance of their time, energy, and effort to their students.

Asking them for a financial gift can feel uncomfortable at best and icky at worst.

Gratefully, I discovered this simple trick that super-charged employee participation, and I think it could help you and your organization as well.

So how did we do it?

The FYI email

It’s so easy. Just add a few lines to the work you’ve already done and forward it to your colleagues.

While I don’t recommend forwarding every message to employees, here are a couple ideas:

  1. Around kick-off time of your campaign, forward the message you *just* sent the broader audience to employees as an FYI. It might say something like, “This campaign is happening and I’ll share progress throughout the next couple days. Stay tuned!”
  2. A mid-campaign update: “Our community has stepped up and we’re more than halfway to our goal! Check out our progress here.”
  3. At the end: “Dear colleagues, you help make this community amazing, and if you don’t believe me, click here to read the comments.”

Did you catch that?

The CTAs are simply invitations to check out the action that’s already in progress.

That’s it.

It’s not pushy, but it’s not nothing, either.

And as the organization worked to increase employee support of the annual fund, this method helped build countless bridges. The notes of appreciation on the message wall brought people to tears and inspired even more generosity from the community.

It was magical.

After implementing this practice, the team saw employee participation rates skyrocket from a half-dozen (yes, 6 employees) during Giving Tuesday 2019 to 64 faculty and staff members at our next Give Day event – a 10x higher rate!

So give it a try. Instead of ignoring your employees, or conversely BLASTING your fellow colleagues with fundraising appeals, try saying “thank you” for all their hard work, offer an invitation to join the party, and let your fellow supporters work their heart-string magic!

You’ll be glad you did.