Yesterday I shared my 4+1 Very Simple, Very Easy, Not-At-All-Intimidating Steps To An Ask. Catchy, huh? The post was intended to offer a bit of reassurance that a fundraising ask doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it out to be.

Since I was thinking about the subject, I thought I’d offer a bit more advice on what separates a mediocre ask from a great one.

A great fundraising ask is…

  • Tactical. I’m busy. Tell me exactly what you want me to do. Don’t tell me to care about world hunger. Ask me to bring three cans of food to X location at Y time. 
  • Practical. A great ask is within my means to carry out. Don’t ask me for $50,000 if I can afford $50. The latter makes me consider your mission; the former makes me question my career.
  • Authentic. A great ask is for a cause/mission/change/better world that you, as the asker, believe in. You have to believe in your mission.  
  • A question. Too many fundraising asks get derailed in the punctuation! Maybe it is because asking feels awkward, but we often let our audience off the hook by making a statement instead of a solicitation. For example, “So I hope that you will donate today.” That’s not an ask, it’s a sentence. (And it isn’t tactical, either.) How about, “Will you help create a better world by donating $50 today?”
  • Uttered! A fundraising ask actually needs to be asked! Speak your change to power!

As I wrote yesterday, asking isn’t brain surgery. It sure is intimidating — but it doesn’t have to be. It can be fulfilling and inspiring and enriching.

Which gets me to the picture in this post. What does the smiling popcorn boy have to do with fundraising asks? Well, to be honest, nothing really — that’s my son Danny. But he sure is cute!

On the other hand, his joy reminds me of asking — of what it can feel like to give, of what it should feel like to speak about the nobility of our mission, and more than anything, about what the world will look like when we accomplish our goals. 

Good luck and best wishes. I know you can do it.