All Children Deserve a Family "All Children Deserve a Family"  

Tips for Creating a Successful Heart Gallery

The Art of the Online "Ask"

How to Appeal for Online Donations
When you sit down to view your nonprofit organization's website, you should be able to locate the donate button in one to two seconds. One Mississippi... Two Mississippi... Time's up! That's it. It should be that easy.

So why aren't more websites designed that way?
As we in the nonprofit world know, getting over the awkwardness of making "the ask" is a trial in itself. But, we also know that to fulfill our missions, good wishes and kind hearts don't keep the lights on or the soup flowing. We need to be proactive about asking for support. We can't hesitate to ask for gifts or involvement on our websites. We need to understand how to ask for donations.

Here are a few tips for making the all-important "ask":
Make your donate button BIG. If you've been readings Tips for awhile now, this first point isn't news, but it's still of paramount importance. Make your button BIG, BOLD and ABOVE-THE-FOLD.

  • Connect to content. Saying "donate now" is not a compelling solicitation. (But, ah, if only it were that easy...) You need to make a tangible appeal to your potential donors. Include an image. On a webpage about your organization's homeless shelter, make your button say something relevant: "Feed five people with a $50 donation now! Any and all support makes a difference in the lives of these families."

  • Show your potential donor him/herself. Sending out an email solicitation? Include a testimonial of one of your constituents or of another donor. People want to see themselves. Hold up that mirror, and show them, "Hey! You can help Susie and others like her by supporting local research..." or, "Hey! You can make a difference just as Donnie Donor did!"

  • Give donors options.Think big. Online donors are as diverse as offline donors-they want to set up recurring gifts, planned giving, stock donations and otherwise. In addition to your online donation form, be sure to include surrounding text about the variety of ways to give. Be sure to include contact information!

  • Ask for more than money. What's a precious commodity that doesn't include a dollar sign (not talking about gasoline here)? A person's time-it can be priceless. Give all the facts and opportunities for volunteerism. Show how organized your program is and what an impact it will make on the volunteer and the project they're doing. Studies indicate that folks who volunteer first will ultimately give more donation money later.

  • Just do it. Frame your appeal in such a way that it answers donors' immediate questions: Why me, why now, what for and who says?
Keep this in mind: You have a variety of online channels (your website, email communications and champions on social networking channels like Facebook) to ask for donations, and you have the know-how to make your organization and a donor's potential real. Go make it happen!

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Measure Your Success

  • Develop policy and Heart Gallery program guidelines.
    • Ensure all partners are aware of the policy and guidelines before they commit to help.
  • Initial Heart Gallery plan must include how you will measure your success.
    • Develop a plan to evaluate and analyze your efforts.
    • Keep a list of all your children and the dates of the premiere.
    • Keep track of all family and agency inquiries received on each heart gallery child or sibling group.
    • Tract the family through the adoption approval process.
    • Tract the children from foster care through adoptive placement.
  • Don't expect placements immediately, give yourself at least three to six months to start seeing placements.
    • This is especially true for families who inquire and do not have a home study.
  • Use your web site to document your successes and advise everyone involved in your project.

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  • Recruit social workers to help you select children for the project.
    • Not all children are comfortable participating in the Heart Gallery.
  • Recognize each partners' best skills.
    • Example:One member is good at networking and another at editing, assign tasks accordingly.
  • Reach out for local community help.
  • Ensure that the foster parents or/and social workers prepare the children for this recruitment activity.
  • Request the input of others.
    • This will encourage them and make them feel involved and invested.
    • Ask for contacts and referrals.
    • Rally those involved!
  • Keep everyone informed on the progress and outcome of the event.

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  • Locate your exhibit venue by promoting the public relations benefits of the exhibit
    • The venue is named in ads and media coverage
  • The venue does not have to be a gallery. All you need is ample and attractive space, easy access, and plenty of parking.
  • Lead your request with your most professional or captivating portraits.
  • They inspire people to donate and can be scanned for use in press releases, print ads, and other materials.
  • Link with prospective donors via a faxed request, phone call, or personal visit and be specific about what you're requesting.
  • Laud sponsors in writing and at the event.
  • Always send "Thank you notes".

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Media and Event Coverage


  • Take time to locate a media guide that lists your state or county press contacts.
  • Tailor your request to each media source.
    • Have a personal interest story ready with a good "hook". This could be an interview with someone who has or was adopted.
    • Prepare in advance a family or an adopted child who will be willing to be interviewed.
    • They should be able to interact with reporters and photo journalists and speak briefly at the event.
  • Establish contact early so you have time to build interest.
  • Think national and local. One can often lead to the other. Please mention Heart Gallery of America's ® Inc. web site.
  • Tell radio stations and television stations about the event.
    • Some may give you free time to talk, especially if you purchase some advertising spots and show producers the portraits' artistic and human appeal.


  • Traveling exhibits, the Internet , TV and radio,
  • Newspapers, church bulletins and other print media,
  • Public presentations and public speaking engagements,
  • Partner with religious organizations and community organizations,
  • Use art galleries, churches, malls, libraries, airports, and banks,
  • State offices, your state Capitol and other public venues to display portraits.

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  • Go through proper channels. Call the Screen Actors Guild at (323) 954-1600 for contact information (agents, managers, etc.). Celebrities who live in the area near the event are most likely to attend.
  • Gather celebrities who have a reputation for being involved with nonprofit organizations or who have a connection with children's issues, especially adoption or foster care.
  • Generate a request letter to tell the contact about your organization, the purpose of the event, and exactly what will be asked of the celebrity. Fax the letter to the celebrity contact.
  • Grant the celebrity permission to speak or perform. Plan for adequate space and refreshments to accommodate your expected audience. Although including a celebrity involves more work, it can increase your event's visibility in the eyes of the public and the press.

If you have further questions about starting a Heart Gallery email Christy Obie-Barrett at or one of the contacts listed from other states.

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We have found this program beneficial in finding families for our children. We ask that as you view the children, consider that they live in our communities. Respect their right to privacy, and be aware that they may attend school or church, or play at the local park with your children and relatives. The availability of their pictures leaves our children recognizable and vulnerable to negative attention. Although we strive to protect them, we need your help. Thank you!

© 2018 Heart Gallery of America, Inc.