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The art of asking for money: Three tips for getting what you want

At some point in your life, you’re going to have to ask for money. But whether you’re negotiating a raise or trying to raise capital for your business, the basic principles remain the same.

It’s not all about you

As DonorsChoose.org founder Charles Best recently told Fast Company, you’ve got to find out what’s important to the person handing over the cash. What are his or her objectives and pain points? How can you solve those?

A personal connection can go a long way. He recounts a meeting with HP’s chief marketing officer that was going nowhere, so Best abandoned his briefing and instead started asking about the CMO – who turned out to be a keen swimmer, opening up an avenue for Best to pitch a swimming-related project.

It’s a sentiment that musician Amanda Palmer (who raised over $1 million from fans on Kickstarter) voices in her famous TED talk.

“When you connect with them, people want to help you.”

Be specific – know exactly what you want

Sarah Peck, who raised $33,000 for Charity: Water for her 29th birthday, emphasises the importance of being specific about what you want, who from, when you need it, and what your desired outcome looks like, in this Medium post.

“This is an all-too-obvious step that’s often overlooked. Often it’s not always clear to you (or others) what it is, exactly, that you’re in need of. The more clarity you can have about what you want, the better. Take the time to learn, figure out, or discover exactly what you want. Once you know what you want ($1m in funding, a date with a lady, a new bookshelf, a corner grocery store), it’s easier to ask for it.”

Carpet-bombing your contacts is not the way to go. Peck advises you be selective and targeted about who you ask for assistance. And when you’re going in for the kill, do not hesitate. 

“Be confident in how you ask. Make a statement, hone your pitch, and then put a clear request in at the end.”

While that may be uncomfortable for most of us, you’ll never get what you don’t ask for. 

Palmer understands that all too well. “Asking makes you vulnerable,” she says. But that’s exactly why you need to “ask without shame”. 

Exude enthusiam?

You are your own best champion. As Best points out, if you’re not psyched, why should anyone else be?

“You should probably put a bigger priority on making your excitement about your offerings tangible and that being a priority more than coming across as buttoned up and business-like,” he tells Fast Company.

According to Peck, the key is to tap into your core motivations – why are you’re doing what you’re doing?

“If you don’t want it at the centre of your core, ask yourself why you’re going after it. If you do want it, ask yourself what you’d be willing to do for this.”

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