Ask and You Shall Receive

I’m going to confess something… I’m afraid to ask for money. I love talking to people and starting new conversations… I even like going on asks and presenting my organization. But, when it comes to that one little sentence where you actually ask for money it can be a little bit scary.

This month I have a number of posts on asking for money. Right now I’ve asked a handful of people directly for their gift and I’ve read and been taught a lot about asking for money but I would not consider myself a seasoned professional. A lot of what I’m writing about this month comes from the handful of mid-level solicitations that I have been a part of and a lot of reading, training, and thinking.

One thing I wanted to say before I right anything about asking is this. I’ve been a part of organizations that ask doing one-on-one solicitations and a part of organizations that send letters and make phone calls. These are two different things. When I talk about asking for money I am talking about one-on-one solicitations. If your organization does not cultivate your top-level donors this way you are missing a huge opportunity. Everyone will give a larger more intentional and personal gift if they are asked in person. If your key donors are not asked in person then they may increase their giving but you miss a huge opportunity to engage them.


5 Responses to Ask and You Shall Receive

  1. Chris D. says:

    I think this is a good point, and a sticking one. I know it’s tough to ask for the $$$. There were two great things I learned from selling cars that have helped me immensly in other areas of my life (not just in selling a physical good–because really, we’re always selling something whether it’s an idea or ourselves):

    1) Ask for all the money. Most all of the salespeople were so nervous to ask for the sticker price of the car (“all the money”) that when a customer would say “Well, how much?” they would immediately discount the price of the car right there by thousands of dollars. The funny thing is though, 25% of people will pay full retail for a car, so they were giving up commissions in 1 out of 4 cases. If someone balks, you can always negotiate later, but you can never go back and ask for more…

    2) Find their primary emotional motivation, hit it early and often. Figure out that “hot button” of why they are buying or why they are giving to a non-profit. There’s got to be a reason they are interested, and it isn’t to help your job. Figure that out quickly (sometimes you have to test a little), and then push that over and over and over.

    Just a couple of thoughts from the Peanut Gallery.

  2. John Haydon says:


    A quick tip about asking for the money is to ask a process oriented question instead of a direct question for cash. For example, instead of “Would you like to donate $5,000?”, try “Would you prefer the semi-annual payment schedule or the annual?”.

    This approach will be less stressful on you and more comfortable for the potential donor.

    Obviously this only works if you’re 90% sure they want to get married, and just need to walk them down the isle.


  3. Jason Dick says:

    Thanks for your comment. I have actually found that it makes a big difference to ask for something specific and direct. In the solicitations that I have done I’ve found that asking for a specific number almost always results in a higher gift. I agree that it can make the process a little bit scarier but it also provides better results.


  4. John Haydon says:


    You are right – having a very specific number (and being direct about that) is the best way to go. What I was getting at is making that scary moment a bit easier for both the corporate sponsor AND fundraiser. Folks in sales call it a “trial close”.

    So, to provide more detail:

    Warning To The Reader – ;-) – this only works IF you get a strong feeling that they want to donate. If that’s not the case, then this approach can hurt the relationship.

    Also, if you’ve cultivated the donor, they should an idea of what dollar amounts to expect.
    Fundraiser: “Joe, it looks like your company is interested in partnering with us. When you work with NPO’s, do you prefer semi-annual payments or annual?” – this takes the focus off of the dollar amount for both parties.

    Potential Sponsor: Annual is fine for us…

    Fundraiser: Perfect. I remember that we talked about the $50,000 annual program. Is that right?

    Potential Sponsor: Well, $50,000 is a bit much for us right now… what else can we do…


    From this point, there are a million directions to go. But, the conversation is now beyond the scary part. It’s now a discussion about what is going to work for both parties.

    The important thing is that folks find a “tool” that works for them. They’ll know it’s working when they feel completely sincere and authentic with what they’re saying.


  5. Mark Petersen says:

    Jason… just added you to my blogroll. You’ve got a great blog happening here… thanks for getting out there!

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