There’s no doubt about it… making asks can be one of the most intimidating tasks for any fundraiser. The thought of sitting down across the table from someone and asking them to give your organization $5,000 or $50,000 is enough to make many people eschew the profession all together.
Yet, the ability to make a fundraising ask in person and/or on the phone is one of the most essential skills any professional fundraiser can possess. Sure, writing great grants is important, holding seamless events is too… but nothing compares to the ability to make a cogent, non-threatening, inspiring fundraising ask.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 14 different ways to ask someone to give money to your non-profit… that’s over two dozen of the millions of different ways you can phrase your ask. You can use these phrases and ideas to help you feel more comfortable crafting your own asks as you approach donors for your non-profit.
Before we look at those 14 ideas, though, I want to remind about two things that are required for a good ask… two things you simply must include in every ask if you want it to be as successful as possible:
- First, every ask must be an actual question. This means that you have to phrase your asks such that they can be answered “yes” or “no.” Saying, “I hope you will consider making a gift to our non-profit” is not an ask at all… it is an aspirational statement that doesn’t require your donor to make a decision.
- Second, every ask should be for a concrete amount. This means that you ask someone for a $50,000 gift (or a $100 gift), and avoid asking things like, “Would you be willing to make a donation to our non-profit?” without anchoring your ask with a suggested donation amount.
So long as your asks include both of those key things, you’re off to a great start in getting your donors to say “yes.” Beyond those two rules, asks can take any number of forms.
Here are 14 great ways to ask someone to make a gift to your non-profit (in no particular order):
#1: “This year, we want to do more than ever before to help those in need. Would you be able to make a $5,000 gift to support our work?”
#2: “Last year, with your help, we served over 10,000 hot meals to the homeless. Will you help us increase that 10% this year by making a $1,000 donation as part of our annual campaign?”
#3: “Virginia, you have been one of our most ardent supporters over the years. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your constant support and friendship. Would you be willing to make a $2,500 gift this year to continue that amazing support?”
#4: “Thank you for being a gold level sponsor for our gala event last year. We’re holding this year’s event on September 24th. Would you be able to renew your sponsorship at the gold level again this year?”
#5: “Have you heard the great news? We’re launching a brand-new campaign to end homelessness in Boston over the next 10 years. Could you join us as a leadership sponsor for this campaign by pledging $100,000 to this effort?”
#6: “Thank you so much for coming to our community building event last Saturday. It was such a success that we’ve decided to offer two more events this year… but they are very expensive. They cost us $3,000 per event. We’re working hard to find sponsors for the events, and I thought of you, since you have been so supportive of these events in the past. Would you be willing to sponsor our next event, by donating $3,000?”
#7: “Thank you for your time on the phone this past week. I am so glad you are interested in our scholarship program. It’s so important for the kids we serve? Our goal for the program this year is to raise $50,000. Would you be willing to entertain a proposal for funding ½ of that amount? If so, I could send it over to you this week.”
#8: “Jim, I don’t know what our organization would do without you. Thanks for your guidance and support. We’re launching our annual campaign next week. Would you be able to make a gift of $10,000 to help us reach our campaign goal?”
#9: “I just came from the clinic. Today we have 50 people waiting in line to see the doctors, but we will only be able to see 40, meaning 10 will go without care. We need to hire another doctor to make sure this doesn’t happen. As I was leaving the clinic, I was thinking about who to call, and I thought of you, because I know this is near and dear to your heart. Would you be willing to make a $10,000 donation to help us reach the $80,000 we need to hire a new doc?”
#10: “Thanks to your $100 donation last year, we were able to offer 25 meals to those in need. Would you be able to increase your gift to $150 this year so that we can offer even more hot meals to those who have nothing to eat?”
#11: “Janet has told me what an amazing supporter you are of our work. We’re so glad that your interested in helping us help more people. One of our biggest focuses right now is on raising enough money to serve every child who needs our help. Could you make a $500 donation to help us help more kids?”
#12: “We have an amazing opportunity right now – a local philanthropist has offered to match every donation that comes in dollar-for-dollar, meaning that every gift that is made to our non-profit is essentially doubled, but the matching challenge is only for this week. Would you help us by making a $1,000 donation this week,
#13: Thank you so much for being a part of our PR committee. Your advice has helped us gain a ton of traction in the press this past year. Today, we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign to help us afford a new MRI machine for the hospital. Would you be willing to make a $1,000 donation to the campaign to help us reach our goal?”
#14: “Patrick, what would we do without you? You’re one of our oldest and dearest supporters. Could we count on you for a $250 donation towards our year-end campaign this year?
As you can see, there are any number of ways to phrase your asks. The most important thing is that your team is out making asks… in person or on the phone… to a steady stream of donors. Be sure to always phrase your asks as a question, and to always include a suggested giving amount. Feel free to modify these 14 ideas to craft asks that suit the unique needs of your non-profit.