Increase Donations with the Right Ask

The Right Ask

The Right Ask

Once you achieve that meeting with a potential major donor, how do you say the right words and convey the right sentiment—deliver the right ask—to secure a large donation?

The most effective “right ask” is enthusiastic, energetic, and passionate—and conveys a sense of urgency for the donation to happen now.

You need to know what you’re asking for, who you’re asking, and convey that your organization is the right one to receive that financial contribution.

Craft your message.

What is your non-profit doing to change the world? Know your talking points in advance, but avoid sounding rehearsed.

Tailor your message for your donor. Come across as committed to your cause and your mission as possible and achievable. Let your passion for the organization shine through.
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Convey how important it is for the potential donor to cut a check now. Emphasize what specifically this donation will accomplish for your organization and your cause, and what a difference it’ll make. Present reasonable but exciting goals for the donated money.

Say the number you’re asking for out loud, so it becomes easy and comfortable to discuss!


Meet face-to-face with your donor if you can; there’s nothing like body language to convey your enthusiasm and personally invest your donor in the cause.

Know what your potential donor’s passions are, too. Why is your cause relevant to this donor? How does it align with his or her interests? Ask questions and actively listen. What is he or she burning to support with philanthropy? A great solicitation is a genuine meeting of the minds, and mutual excitement for what the organization is going out to accomplish.

Spend more time listening than talking!


Use the sponsor-tracking tools in Greater Giving Online to attach contacts to potential donors (so you know who you’ve been working with at a business or organization), to assign solicitors to donors (so everyone at your organization knows who’s been working with which donor), and keep track of all solicitations and their progress on the Sponsorship Dashboard.

Convey urgency, specificity, and importance.

Be clear about what exactly the donation you’re soliciting will accomplish. Focus on specific programs, beneficiaries, and why the donation needs to be made now rather than later.

Bring someone to the interaction who has made a donation (or, if you yourself have made a large donation, focus on that) to show that you have a personal investment in the cause.

Why are you the best recipient? No one wants to donate to an organization that doesn’t know how to use the donated funds, or has a high overhead. Showcase the financial responsibility and integrity of your non-profit. Demonstrate why your mission is important—vital, even. Appeal emotionally to your potential donor.

Follow up.

Many potential donors have busy schedules and distractions. You will likely need to follow up once or more to stay top-of-mind and bring that donation in. Keep organized and stay motivated.

Major donors are the life blood of a non-profit organization. Funnel your passion, be persistent and follow-up— and you’ll find your ask will pay off!

Writing For Non-Profits

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