Welcome To the Fundraising Corner!

Congratulations on becoming an SDWR Ambassador and joining the SDWR Fundraising efforts! You are now a member of our huge network of supporters and a community of families just like you in both their invisible disabilities and their desire to achieve a better quality of life through a service dog. We are so excited to be able to place a Lifetime Training Guaranteed Service Dog in your home to start transforming your life and peace of mind. So where do we get started?

Well, as an Ambassador, your job is to raise awareness both social and financial to help bring more service dogs to more families with similar disabilities. This amazing goal has transformed hundreds of lives and you are now a much-welcomed part of our worldwide mission.

On this page, you will find a huge library of fundraising resources to help you crowdsource your goals and meet your pledge. While your initial goal may seem overwhelming, let’s take a step back and break it down into lots of small manageable pieces.

Keep in mind, the SDWR team has a wide breadth of successful experience and a huge library of resources so you will never be alone in the process. Welcome to the team, we couldn’t be happier to have you!

A Letter From Us To You About Getting Started

Dear SDWR Family:
If you talk with our families, you’ll hear over and over that one of the most exciting days of their lives was the delivery of their service dog. On delivery day, our trainers are usually welcomed by not only the receiving family but also friends, community members, leaders of civic organizations and even local press. For so many people realize that the skills of a service dog are life-changing, life-enriching, and even life-saving. By banding together to meet the financial pledge, families, and their communities feel like they have done something to at least make better a diagnosis that they cannot “fix” or “change.”

Here at SDWR, every service dog delivery is a special day to us. From the staff to the trainers, we all have gotten to know, and love, the service dog being delivered. And we are just as excited about your future with your service dog as you are. We know the difference our dogs can make.

If you are just starting, are mid-way through or close to fulfilling your pledge commitment, please know that we are here to help you. From ideas about funding sources in your area to template letters to civic and corporate funders, to press releases to your local papers seeking that financial assistance we can and want to help you.

The day of diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, Autism, Seizure Disorder or PTSD is one of the worst days for any family. Most of our staff here at SDWR either has had such a diagnosis or has a family member coping with one of these invisible disabilities. We want to work with you to give you a better day-service dog delivery day! And we want to help you have a better life, a life that includes an SDWR service dog. Until there’s a cure, there’s a dog. And, until the puzzle’s solved, there’s a dog.

Please let us know how we can help you meet your pledge.

What Do I do with cash and checks ?

If Someone gives you cash please put that in a secure place immediately. Enter the donation on Donor Drive as an: “Offline donation.” If you need help with how to do this, please contact Client Services for further instructions on that. Once it is entered please put it on the donor tracking sheet, which you can get from Client Services. Then you will want to convert the cash to either get a cashiers check or money order. PLEASE DO NOT SEND CASH IN THE MAIL.

For checks, you first need to make sure that the check is made out to SDWR and not to YOU…. If it is made out to you , we ask that you have the check re-issued as we can’t give them a receipt if it’s not donated to us, but to you instead. Once you double check who the check is made out you will then enter it on the tracking sheet and mail a copy of the tracking sheet and all the checks and money order and or cashiers checks to P.O. BOX 647 MADISON, VA 22727. Download our donations tracker here.

How to Ask Anyone for Anything

Asking someone for a donation, or to come to an event, on behalf of your school, church, or non-profit need not be a harrowing affair. Making an ask can even be (gulp!) a pleasant and enjoyable experience. The three important areas to consider in making an ask are relationships, planning, and process. More on all three below.

Relationships Matter!

  • The most important thing you can do, as someone who is fundraising, is to build deeper relationships between your prospect and the organization you are fundraising on behalf of. Sure, bringing in a $100 check is nice, but building a strong relationship that results in 100 volunteer hours, $1,000 in donations, and several new contacts, all over three or four years, would be much more valuable.
  • Because relationships matter, don’t rush your fundraising asks (unless your charity is in dire straits). Harvey Mackay famously wrote a business networking book called, “Dig Your Well before You’re Thirsty.” That’s good advice in non-profit fundraising as well. Raising money is hard enough… it’s doubly hard when your first contact with someone is an ask for money.
  • A better strategy is to, as often as possible, make your first a non-monetary ask. Build relationships with your prospects – ask them to come to a free event, read your case for support, sign-up for your newsletter, volunteer at your office. Get them involved (or at least have one introductory conversation about your charity that is not based on seeking a donation), then ask them to give. Build relationships that last, whenever possible.

Planning the Ask

Before you make any ask, whether it is for money or for time, for tickets to an event, or to attend a free seminar, be sure you’re ready:

  1. Decide Who You Are Asking: Who are you asking? Is it an individual? A company? An organization? What person in the company would be best to ask? Should you make the ask to your friend… or to his wife? Etc.
  2. Decide What You Are Asking For: Are you asking for money? How much? Are you asking someone to come to an event or to volunteer? When? In what capacity?
  3. Understand That There Will Be “No’s”: And that’s ok! Fundraising is like baseball… even the best, most experienced practitioners receive lots of “no’s.” Don’t let them get you down. They’re part of the game.
  4. But Expect a Yes: Attitude matters in fundraising. If you go into a fundraising ask assuming you will get a no, you probably will. Remember, your organization’s mission matters! Go into every fundraising ask expecting a yes, and asking for a yes.
  5. Show People How They Can Make a Concrete Difference or Reach a Concrete Goal: People like to know that their donation is doing something specific and concrete. If at all possible, ask them to contribute to help do something specific, even if it is only to help you reach your own personal fundraising goal. For example, “Would you contribute $50 to pay for 25 meals for the homeless?” or “I’m trying to raise $1,000 for the Boy Scouts. Will you donate $100 to help me reach that goal?”

The Process: Anatomy of an Ask

Great, you say: I’ve built relationships, I’ve planned out my ask. But Joe, tell me… how do I actually make an ask? The best way to make an ask (any ask, whether for money, time, volunteer hours, or anything else) is by following these simple steps:

  1. Get the pleasantries out of the way. Talk about the kids, the family, work, the last time you saw the other person. Get the small talk out of the way first.
  2. Make a transition. Once the small talk is out of the way, make a transition so that people know the topic has changed to something far more serious. Good transitions include, “Listen… I want to talk about something important,” “I’ve got a serious question for you,” or, “Jane, I need your help.”
  3. Make the connection. Once you’ve moved into the more serious conversation through your transition, remind the prospect of the connection that you personally have with the organization, and that they have with the organization (if they have one). For instance, “Jim, as you know, I’ve been on the board of the Farmer’s Assistance Fund for three years now…” or, “Colleen, you’ve been to three events at the Rising Sun School now, and have volunteered at our annual community day…”
  4. Make them cry. Ok, that’s a little overboard. But you want to make sure that the person you are talking to understands the impact of your mission. Remind them what your charity does, and why it is important. Good examples are, “Samuel, every day, hundreds of people are diagnosed with XYZ disease, and each year 2,500 will die because they can’t afford the medication they need to treat their affliction” or “Janet, I’m heartbroken when I look into the faces of these former child soldiers. I see such pain, and I can’t believe we don’t have the resources to help every single one.”
  5. Make them understand why you need what you are asking for. This is the background for your specific ask. Why are you asking them to come to an event? (“We’re trying to raise our public profile…”) Why are you asking them to give $500? (“We want to serve more hungry families” or “We want to provide more scholarships to needy children”).
  6. Make the ask. Remember to make it a question, and to ask for something concrete and specific.

That may seem like a complicated formula, but once you practice it a few times, you’ll see that is actually quite natural and makes for a pleasant experience. Using this formula, your ask may sound like this:

Hi Ruth, how are you? How are the kids? (Pleasantries)

Listen, I’ve got something important to ask you. (Make the Transition)

As you know, I’ve been on the board of the free clinic for almost a year now, and it’s something that is very near and dear to my heart. (Make the Connection)

Every time I visit the clinic, I see meet the nicest families, who seem just like mine, only they can’t afford even basic medical care for their children. I see kids who have to be admitted because their families couldn’t afford antibiotics for a simple infection. It’s very sad! (Make Them Cry)

Ruth, right now, we can only serve about 50% of the families who need our help. Our goal is to be able to serve every single family and child that needs medical care at the clinic. We need to raise another $100,000 to make that dream a reality. (Tell Them Why)

Would you be willing to contribute $250 to help us reach that goal? (Make the Ask)

Don’t be afraid, as part of your planning process, to write out a script for yourself so that you’ll feel more comfortable once you’re on the phone with your contact. And remember, always profusely thank everyone who responds to your ask, and is sure to thank those who say no for their time and consideration.