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6 Steps to the Perfect Ask

January 26th, 2014 Posted in Fundraising

Fundraising always comes down to asking, doesn’t it?

“The Ask” is something we study, prep for, script, dream about, love and and sometimes avoid.

Here are the six steps that will lead you to a “yes” every time you ask:

1.  Identify the Right Prospect to Approach.

Is this person really a good, “qualified prospect” as we say in fundraising or are you just hoping that they are?

Don’t spend your time unless you are certain this person can make a gift at this level and that they might want to make this gift.

There needs to be a firm reason that this person can and would make the gift.

Spend some time analyzing:

  • their giving potential,
  • their level of interest,
  • likelihood that they would give at this level.

Ha? Where?

What does your donor really want to accomplish?

Be willing to do a realistic, honest appraisal of where they rate in these categories.

Then you’ll be able to target those individuals who are MOST LIKELY and approach only them.

2. Get to Know Your Prospective Donor.

Do your research well before you want to ask for the gift.

The more you know about your donor’s interests, passions, vision and track record, the better your chance of securing her support.

Spend time in person chatting with her about your cause and her interests.  Listen to her.

Understand what she cares about and what causes she likes to fund.

Find out what she thinks about your organization, its leadership, and its vision.

You should know these things:

  • What are her attitudes about your cause?
  • What is she really passionate about?
  • How interested is she really in your organization and its vision?
  • Is she prepared for a solicitation? Have you mentioned a possible number earlier?

3.  Make it a Conversation.

We have an old saying in fundraising: “Listen Your Way to the Gift.”

If you are doing all the talking, then you’ll never “make the sale.”


What's YOUR biggest obstacle to closing major gifts?

What’s YOUR biggest obstacle to closing major gifts?

It’s so very important to draw your donor out and get him to react to your ideas.

If you don’t know what’s going on in his head, how on earth can you promote your idea in a way that will appeal to him?

  • See if you can pull out any objections.
  • Listen carefully to his questions, because they give you an indication of what’s on his mind.

4.  Make Your Ask into an Exciting Opportunity.

Take it to the highest level.  Show the donor what will happen if he makes an investment in your cause.

Talk about the impact and your results.

This is an opportunity to do what? To accomplish what?

Donors want to be part of something exciting.

They want to help create a better future. They want to help change or save lives.question mark2

Say something like this:   “We’d like to talk to you about being the lead in this vision.  Can you help us?”

5. After You Ask, Sit Quietly and SHUT UP.

The donor is mulling over your idea and your request. She is probably thinking:

  • Can I do this?
  • Do I want to do this?
  • How can I do this?
  • Do I need to talk to my spouse?
  • Do I need to talk to my investment adviser or my CPA?

Give your donor plenty of time to consider your request and DON’T SAY A WORD.

There is an old line in sales that goes like this:  “He who speaks next, loses.”

6. An Ask is Not an Ask Without Followup.

My friend Laura Fredricks, author of The Ask, says that we often fall down on the most important part – following up the request.

How many times have we made asks that never got closed?

Way, way, too many! (I know I have, at least!)

Be sure you followup cheerfully and often until you get an answer from your donor.

10/24/2013 by  Perry

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