Pros and Cons: Individual Solicitation

Individual solicitation is just a fancy name for asking people for money. You may ask them in person or on the phone. (Of course, face-to-face is always better. See the 13 Most Effective Asking Methods.)


  • It's the most effective of all fundraising methods. Nothing beats personally asking someone to give.
  • Gifts are often large.
  • If your board members have wealthy contacts, this is an excellent way for them to raise funds.
  • Once you make personal contacts with people, they're likely to give again and again, perhaps even leaving their money to your organization in their will.
  • In person, it's harder to say no.
  • No outlay of cash is needed.
  • A gift from an individual paves the way for more gifts, as well as other kinds of help.


  • It's very labor-intensive. The solicitor has to be willing to spend time explaining the organization to the potential donor.
  • The solicitor needs to be well-prepared, unafraid to ask for money, and enthusiastic about the organization.
  • It's important to build a file of biographical data on potential donors before you meet with them, and this research can be time-consuming.
  • Most people hate to ask for gifts, because they fear rejection. (But once you get over that fear, asking can be fun.)


  • If you don't know the potential donor, find someone who does to open the door for you.
  • Establish rapport with the potential donor. Start your conversation with common areas of interest.
  • Be specific and clear about the purpose for your visit or call.
  • Be sure your presentation is well prepared. Don't waste your prospect's time.
  • Provide up-to-date information about your organization and make a definite proposal for support.
  • ASK for the gift. It's amazing how many fundraisers finish their presentation and leave without ever "closing the sale"! Remember, the worst that can happen is that the person says no - and even that can always be turned into a yes later.
  • When individuals give, thank them profusely.
  • Keep donors informed of what's going on in your organization (by sending them newsletters, press releases, invitations to events, and so on.) Also send them birthday and holiday greetings. Never think of a gift as a one-time event or a donor as a one-time giver. Think of them as your organization's friends, and treat them accordingly.
  • Maintain accurate records on all donations. A first-class computer system is invaluable.


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