Our question this week is from Sarah, who wants to know:
How do you determine the right ask amount?
This is a great question, and one that many people struggle with.
Unfortunately, there’s no exact formula. Fundraising is about working with people, which makes it part science and part art — but there are some general guidelines you can use to determine the right ask amount.
For the purpose of this question I’m going to assume that you’re not in a capital campaign but rather that this is a major gift ask for your annual fund.
Use the 2 / 10 Range to Determine Your Ask Amount
My general rule in this case is to ask for between two and ten times the donor’s normal gift. In other words, if your donor usually gives $1,000 annually, your starting figure is going to be between $2,000 and $10,000.
But don’t actually ask your donor for a gift “between $2,000 and $10,000!”
Because they will almost always choose the lowest amount — in this case, $2,000.
Narrowing Your Range
Instead, before you make the ask, your next step is to consider what you know about your donor in order to narrow your range. Ask yourself:
- What do they do for a living?
- What does their spouse or partner do?
- Where do they live?
- How do they spend their leisure time?
Consider anything you might know about them that will give you an idea of their resources. If you know they have a lot of resources to share, you’ll want to ask for the higher figure.
Consider Your Organization’s Needs
The final step in determining the correct ask amount is to consider what your organization needs and any previous conversations with your donor.
Is the donor interested in supporting a particular program in a big way? Are they interested in being a leadership-level donor? Or are they paying for their child’s wedding this year? (If that’s the case, you’ll want to ask for a smaller gift.)
If you have a program or project your donor is excited about, and you feel they might have the capacity to support it, you’ll pick one of the higher figures.
Tip of the Day:
When determining how much to ask for, consider the following:
- Donor History
- Donor Occupation and Lifestyle
- Organizational Needs
Whatever the ask amount you start with, remember that an ask is a conversation or negotiation with your donor. If you ask for $5,000, they might say they can only give $4,000 or even $2,500, but at least you’ll know your ask was in the right ballpark for their interest and ability.
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Let’s talk about it!
Have you been in an ask meeting where you learned you were asking for too much or too little –- or one where you found out you’d hit the nail perfectly on the head?
Share your stories, questions, and concerns in the comments below.
Do you have a question for Ask the Fundraising Expert? Ask in the comments below or contact me. I’m always eager to help make fundraising simpler.