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It's all about the Ask!


Talking about money can be awkward, and at times, downright intimidating. Even though studies suggest that asking for donations can increase the probability that someone will give and increase the amount they are likely to give, most of us still find asking for money challenging.

The truth is, donating provides a way for people to connect their existing passion with your cause. The goal is not to convince people to donate; it is to show the value in your service. Once potential donors realize the value you provide, and that your cause matters, giving will occur naturally. The key is knowing how to ask.

There are a lot of wrong ways to ask, and only a few right ways to ask, in terms of successfully establishing relationships and increasing donations. We’ve come up with eight tips to constructing the perfect ask:



1. Understand your potential donors


Do your homework. Who are your potential donors? What matters to them? Using customer management systems or donor management systems can help you gain donor insight. You can find out ages, communication preferences, contact information, history of event attendance or previous donations, etc. This information will help you create an image of the person or group you are speaking with, and help you understand their specific needs.

One small freebee- EVERYONE wants to know where their funds are going, so include that in your call, email, or website. People will donate to your cause as long as they feel like their donation is directly contributing the cause. Be transparent; show them how their funds are being used (through charts, stats, social proof, etc) they will continue to give. 


2. Listen more, talk less

  Most of the time, listening can give you invaluable insight and allow you to better understand your potential donor. I think it’s safe to say that everyone wants to be heard. Take time to listen to what people are saying. Ask them for their input. What’s their take on the problem? Do they have concerns in regards to giving? Listening to your potential door’s advice will make them feel important and valued, which they are. Their funds and support allow your organization to further its mission. Help them feel like they are a part of change.  

3. Make it personal

  Address emails, letters, and cards with your potential donor’s name. Take the time to get to know them. Were they involved in a past event? Mention it! Use phrases like “Join the…” or “Help us…” to help make donors feel like they are more involved in your organization, which they support.  

4. Ask for a specific amount


Take the guesswork out and provide different levels and ways to give. Offer monetary options that connect with a larger, more diverse group. Some donors want to give, but can’t commit to a large amount. Others prefer not to donate, but would rather start a fundraising campaign of their own and give your organization the proceeds (such as a bake sale, or a marathon run). Give potential donors options and ways that they can get involved.


5. Be passionate & positive

  Passion is contagious. If you are excited about your organization, and your mission, it will shine through you. Be positive, and provide your donor with strides your organization is making, and how they can make a difference. Be specific. Are more kids receiving clean water? Then say it! Better yet, show it using images and stories. If you believe in your cause, others will too. Don’t be boring, and don’t be passive. Connect with your donor and show them the value in their giving.  

6. Practice, Practice, Practice

  Practice your ask. Practice with family, practice with friends, practice with a mirror. Go over a conversation that you would have with a potential donor. Practice making a call, practice your greeting. Practice asking them about themselves, and practice conversation points. Keep in mind, you don't want to sound like a robot with a prerecorded speech. Know what points you want to touch on, know how you want to ask, and let the conversation evolve. Be personable. Be genuine.  

7. Do something nice for your donors

  This one can be tricky, but it can leave a lasting impression, and encourage continued donations. Giving donors a gift for making a donation is a great way to show donors your appreciation. Try to use gifts that align with your mission. If you care about the environment, send them an ecofriendly gift. A little, personal thank you can transform one-time donors to monthly donors.  

8. Keep in touch!


If a potential donor receives your online donation form, pulls out their credit card and decides to give you money, it’s highly likely they’d be open to hearing from you again. Send them personal thank you notes. Show them how their donation is being used. Follow up every few months with a special offer, or a phone call. This is a key factor in donor retention. Continue to keep donors updated with success stories.

If they do not donate, don’t lose hope and move on. Try another approach. Take time to think about your conversation, and see if you can improve on your ask. People respond to value. Show them that you value their support, and how their contribution would impact a cause.




Remember, when soliciting donations, present potential donors with value, and focus on establishing a relationship. If you lead with “I want to sell you something” then you are done. Nothing will shut the door faster than a sales pitch. Take time to get to know the person to whom you are speaking. Do less talking and more listening.

Begin conversations with the goal of developing a long-term relationship, NOT getting funding. That is the position you want to establish. Ask the person about himself or herself, and position yourself in a way to help them. Offer value to the person. They WILL get around to asking about you. Don't be in a rush to sell. Take the time to develop a relationship first and foremost. Your goal should be to serve first; Everything else (donations, volunteering, attending, signing up for, sharing, etc..) will occur naturally.


I hope you find this post useful!


All my love,