Five Ideas That Will Make Major Gift Asks Much Easier and More Successful

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We all know that fundraising comes down to one exciting, scary moment:  when you actually ask for support.

This is when knees start knocking under the table, mouths get dry and suddenly words evaporate.

But it doesn’t have to be so awfully scary, if you can just remember a few very important ideas.asking-p137574142295312324tdtq_400

These insights will help you be far more effective, more strategic, and happier when you are asking.

1. Insight One: Asking is a process, not a one-time transaction.

You’ve got to remember that this is NOT a “make or break” moment.

Asking is not a single point in time. It’s a process.

A process with lots of steps, and I’ve talked a lot about these steps in this blog:

1. You identify your prospect.

2. You open the door and begin a conversation.

3. You cultivate and involve them in your cause.

4. When they are ready, you ask for support.

5. Then you thank, thank, thank again.

Do you have a close relationship with your donor?

How close is your relationship with your donor?

It’s all about the longer term RELATIONSHIP you have with the donor.

Since the moment of The Ask is not a make or break event, you can breathe and relax and turn it into a conversation.

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2. Insight Two:  People will give you money to change or save lives.

If you are going to be a successful solicitor, you really must understand that all people give for a reason.

And the most prevalent reason is that people want make a difference in the world – they want to change or save lives.

Here’s a short list of the major reasons people give:

  • To change or save LIVES
  • Be part of something bigger
  • Moved at how their gift can make a difference
  • Give back
  • Support the community
  • Personal experience with your organization’s mission

What are the reasons that you give?

Show the donor how their gift can change or save lives!

Show the donor how their gift can change or save lives!

What are the reasons people give to your organization?  Why don’t you ask your donors why they are giving?

3. Insight Three: It’s NEVER about money.

Fundraising is about much, much more than money.

If you think what you are asking for is “money,”  then you won’t be very successful.

If you think it’s all about money, then you won’t be connecting with the higher, altruistic purpose that lives in your donor’s heart.

You’ll instead be engaging in a sales transaction, and one at a much, much smaller level.

Never, ever make it about MONEY!  Instead make it about the kids, the students, the sick, the elderly – whoever you are helping!

One of my great fundraising mottos is:

“Fundraising is not about money, it’s about changing the world.”

If you focus your conversation and your energy about what’s at stake, and how this gift could make such a huge difference, then you’ll be able to raise mega gifts.


Making friends to change the world

About a vision for a better future

Taking a stand

Changing the world

Making your community a better place



Ever about money!

About cold calls

About asking strangers for money

Hitting up people

4. Insight Four:  It’s not about you.

Many solicitors are self conscious and focusing on themselves. Maybe it’s nervousness, or awkwardness, but they are self-focused rather than donor focused.

BUT it’s really all about the donor.  You should be thinking of him or her all the time, not about yourself.

Fundraising is NEVER about money! It is about changing the world!

Fundraising is NEVER about money! It is about changing the world!

You need to take your cues from them, and not be listening, and thinking about what you will say or do next.

We fundraisers have learned (the hard way sometimes) that the only way to be a successful solicitor is to let the donor lead the way.

Another of my fundraising mottos is:

“Listen Your Way to the Gift!” 

5. Insight Five: People give to an exciting opportunity and BIG IDEAS.

When you are preparing for an ask, you must always, always remember that people want to give to a BIG purpose, with HIGH impact that has EXCITING potential.

So when you are presenting your “pitch” you’ll need to talk in the largest possible terms:


For a kids’ soccer team: “Help these young people develop skills and experience of teamwork in sports to help them prepare for life.”

For a literacy program: “help people gain self-respect, tools for better employment and become productive tax-paying citizens. And you are also helping an entire family.”

For a post-prison transition program: “help people make a solid transition so they don’t end back up in prison. Let’s end the revolving door.”

For an independent school: “help young people get the best possible education so they will be prepared for life – they are our future.”

For a health clinic: “our health infrastructure is a basic foundation for economic development in our community . . .”

And on and on. You can take any project and blow it up to its highest potential.

What is your project? Can you blow it up to its highest impact?

The MPI Formula: Money, Project and Impact.

Don’t forget to use the MPI Formula when you ask. What is this?

You ask for a certain amount of money, for a certain project and remind the donor of the overall impact it will have.

Verrrry easy to remember!


Asking can be scary and that’s ok. But it’s also amazingly powerful.

Give these ideas a try and let me know how you do!

Did you like this post? Is it useful? Leave a comment and let me know!