Fundraisers, Does Your ‘Ask’ Sell Your Work Short?

Fundraisers, Does Your ‘Ask’ Sell Your Work Short?

It’s getting to be that time of year when you’ll be hearing from the nonprofits you support, as they unleash their year-end appeals.

If you work for a nonprofit, you might be agonizing over what to say that gives you the best chance of receiving a donation.

If you’re among those writing these appeals, I’d like to take a few moments to help you avoid what some experts say is the worst mistake you can make: a wishy washy “ask.”

Let’s face it, when that envelope or email arrives, the person to whom it’s addressed knows it’s a request for money. Since year-end appeals are targeted toward previous donors, there’s a good chance that before reading your appeal, the target will have decided whether or not to give.

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But you could still blow it by not being firm enough in your ask. You have to ask like you mean it.

I’ve seen too many letters where the person who signs the appeal expresses the “hope” that you’ll give. Or they implore you to “consider” a donation.


Hoping isn’t asking and considering isn’t giving.

“Please give today,” is a much more forceful and forthright approach, and the reader — whether consciously or not — will be more highly motivated to comply.

Of course your appeal needs more than an ask. Donors need to know how the donations they’ve made before helped — as explicitly as you can. And they want to know what their next gift will do, too.

Details mean a lot — but so does tone.

The “ask” is the most important part of a fundraising appeal. Don’t just convey that you need the donation. Let them know you deserve it.

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