6 Steps to More Effective Asks
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Development professionals should be prepared for every ask they make, big or small. Making an ask is often one of the final steps of a long process, which includes identifying prospects, cultivating relationships, conducting research, getting other people involved, and planning the final approach.
Whether we are development professionals or volunteers, we have a great responsibility to the organization. Every ask is important. Although making an ask is vital, it does not need to be a source of anxiety, especially if you prepare before you are in front of your prospect for the final approach. Below are some ideas to help you feel better prepared to make your ask more effective.
1) Stewardship is the most important component of any ask. Before you make an ask, it is important to build trust. Take them out for coffee to get to know them. Share your passion for the organization and begin sharing stories about how your organization has made a difference. Building a relationship is key to success.
2) Know your prospect. This pairs closely with step one. You don’t want to go into a meeting without understanding and knowing who your prospect is and what motivates them. Some questions to ask yourself include: What is his or her background? How do they know about your organization? What other organizations do they support? What are his or her key interests and how might you align those interests with the needs of your organization? It is important to research your prospect well. The better you know your prospective donor, the better chance you will have of relating the case of your ask to your prospect. People give to people, not causes! In general, donors have a few key charitable interests and it is your job to connect their interests with your organization. Be creative.
3) Know the “ask.” To be specific, know how much you are asking for and how it will be used. For example, if you need donor support to help children with cancer learn how to play an instrument, ask for a specific amount to fund your efforts. People yearn to understand how their money is being used and how they are making a difference.
4) Practice makes perfect. Practice. Do not memorize! Practicing helps you feel more comfortable and confident in your approach without the rigidity of memorizing. Each prospective donor is different which means each ask will be different. There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach. Take a few minutes before each meeting to review the key points. Confidence matters, especially when it comes to meeting with a prospect and making an ask.
5) Bring the energy! We don’t mean drink cup after cup of coffee before your meeting. We mean be excited about the organization’s mission. Be passionate, tell stories, cast a big vision, and elicit emotions. Talk passionately about the difference your prospect’s gift will make. Be a forceful advocate for your organization.
6) Again, stewardship is the most important component of any ask and it does not stop after you have made your request. Follow up is an integral part of stewardship with your prospect. Write personal notes of appreciation to each person. The last thing you want them to think is that your newly built relationship is only about money. You want to continue to foster your relationship, build trust, and develop a lasting partnership.
Following these six steps will help you feel more confident and prepared before making a big fundraising ask.
Tell us in the comments how you plan to implement these six steps into your fundraising!