Most Common Question All Non-profits Ask… and the Million Dollar Answer

By Charity Fundraising - October 11th, 2015

“How much should I ask this donor for?”

It’s one of the most common and head-scratching questions in the Non-profit arena. Why? Because most organizations are tired of fitting each situation in an overgeneralizing plan, missing opportunities to maximize and cultivate stronger donor relationships.

Charity Fundraising has the million-dollar answer for this common question. Here are four tips to help you tackle this question:

  1. The asking amount changes from donor to donor- start in the donor files

Scenario 1: Your non-profit has a consistent donor who attends events and donates semi-annually. You want to ask her for a major gift in your new capital campaign. How much should you ask this donor for?

The donor files will give you much needed information in this type of scenario. For example – How much has this person given in the past? What size gifts do they give, and how often? 

  1. Narrowing your Range

Scenario 2: What about this one: You’re cultivating a relationship with a new prospect donor and he is ready to be asked for a donation. He has never given to your organization before, but you think there is potential for him to be a major donor. How much should you ask this donor for?

Since you don’t have any past donation experiences with this new donor, the next step is to take what you do know about this donor and use common sense to narrow your ask amount.

Narrowing your range takes into account the donors probable resources. Ask these questions to help you adjust your ask amount:

  • What does the donor do for a living?
  • What does their spouse or partner do?
  • Where do they live?
  • How do they spend their leisure time?
  • Do their children attend free public schools, moderately priced parochial schools, or expensive private schools?
  • How much do the houses cost in the neighborhood they live in?
  1. Don’t be Afraid to Aim Higher than Lower – Always

First, it is important that you know – You are not going to Ruin your relationship with your donor by asking too much from your donor. No matter how much you ask for, it is unlikely that it will ruin your relationship with your donor.

Always aim higher, rather than lower. Your donor can always talk you down to a lower amount…

Ask for an amount at the top range of your estimated range. For example, after consulting their donor file and narrowing your range, If you think a donor can give $5,000-$10,000, don’t ask for the lower half of the range. Asking for somewhere in the top half of their range ($8,000 or $9,000) will leave you prepared to lower your asking amount to ($7,000 or $6,000 or even $5,000) if they said that was too expensive. If you start at $5,000, chances are you will not get $9,000.

  1. Let the fundraising auction’s bidding process answer FOR you

Holding fundraising auction events is a great way to ask your donors to come out and support your cause. Asking your donors for more donations and more sponsorship will always bring in revenue to your organization. However, when done right, holding fundraising auction events can benefit your donors and bring in more revenue to your organization. It’s important make your donors feel like they are a key component to your organization. Bringing your donors together to an event makes their efforts more tangible than just asking for more numbers on the next check they make out to your non-profit. And what better way to raise money for your organization than with fun and exciting fundraising auction items?

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