How To Ask For Donations And Sponsorships

Originally featured on Notley's blog on September 21, 2017.

There is a right way and wrong way to ask potential donors for donations, sponsorships and corporate partnerships. I thought I’d boil down my do's and don'ts into some easy bullet points.


  • Send a cold email. Find someone who is willing to vouch for you to make an intro. I get a ton of these and probably won’t even see it and most certainly won’t read it.

  • Ask for money from a person without them offering to help first. They probably already know you need money. If there’s a good fit, they’ll ask you how they can help or get involved.

  • Ask for something every time you see a potential donor. This is the easiest way for donors to start dodging your phone calls and start ignoring your emails

  • Ask donors to intro you to their network to solicit donations. Unless they’ve offered to do this for you, this will never happen.

  • Ask potential donors for money as the only option for them to engage. How else might you get them involved?


  • Take the time to learn about a donor's mission, including who they give to and where they spend their time. You want to craft your asks around what they're already passionate about.

  • Offer ways you can help a donor or their projects. I don’t mean this in a selfish way and it’s not about reverse psychology. It’s about building a relationship that is a two-way street. Plus it’s a lot harder to say no to someone who is helping you.

  • Craft a custom engagement and giving opportunity. The better your mission connects with theirs, the better the chances are they'll want to fund it.

  • Ask for advice, not money. “Ask for advice, you’ll get money. Ask for money, you’ll get advice”

  • Read Give and Take by Adam Grant

Dan Graham