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What to Ask for When Making Your Ask: Forefront Interview (Part 2)

In our last article, we shared insights from Delia and Marlee from Forefront (formerly Donors Forum) regarding building successful nonprofit-donor relationships…  

With the New year approaching, we asked Marlee and Delia what their advice would be for nonprofits to improve on the overall success of their fundraising efforts in 2016.  In particular, what should nonprofits be asking for when making their ask?  The following was Marlee’s response: 

Marlee“What I’ve learned from campaigns like GivingTuesday and others is that not every single one of your donors is always going to respond to every single one of your fundraising campaigns.  So, who do you want to target your end of year campaign to?  I think that’s a good question to ask for any fundraising campaign that you have, particularly for the end of year because you know how your givers tend to give.”

Opposed to placing all of your donors in the same bucket by sharing the same campaign with all of them at the same time, Marlee is suggesting that they be separated into groups (i.e., small donors vs. large donors).  Also stating:  

“Know who your donor base is and what appeals to them.”  

Getting very specific about your ask at the end of the year is another important piece of advice brought into this conversation.  December is the biggest giving month and the last few days of the year are some of the biggest giving days, so you need to make that time count.  Delia elaborated:   

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“Be really specific about what your ask is.  If this is your last chance in the calendar year to ask for a donation, don’t say “give what you can”; you’re squandering an opportunity.  Be really specific about what you need and ask your donors for it or they won’t step up.  And that’s another thing, your donors are your donors, they’re not frail flowers that are going to collapse under the weight of an ask.”

Getting specific is also an important aspect of this.  Letting your donors know exactly what you need within your ask is a great tactic to get them to donate more.  For instance, if you need $10,000.00 to meet your year-end goal, then clearly state this within your ask.  If you keep your ask vague, stating things like, “give what you can” or “please make a donation”, without informing them of the actual need, there’s no sense of urgency and no guidelines about how much to give and how soon to give it.  

An important point about ask frequency to meet year-end goals was expressed by Delia:  

“When it comes to questions like, how much is too much?  It is never too much!…We need to make a choice, what’s more rude, your program disappearing or someone getting maybe 10 emails in a month?”  

Nonprofits will miss out on meeting their financial goals and say that they “didn’t want to be rude” by sending out too many asks.  But, what they need to realize is that their donors want to be kept updated on the status of the organizations that they have helped support.  So, if you’re honest and specific in your ask about how much you need to meet your goals, and you send regular updates about how much more you still need, you’ll be more likely to meet your quota.  

The takeaway:  When creating your ask and deciding who to distribute it to or who to target, follow these two simple rules:  

  1. Know who your donor base is
  2. Know what will appeal to them

And as far as ask frequency is concerned, send your ask as many times as needed to achieve your fundraising goals for the year!  

Do you now have a better idea of what to ask for when making your ask?  

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What’s in the pipeline for next week?

How to Prevent Donor Fatigue


2 Crucial Steps to Fundraising Success