This Tip Makes Asking for a Gift Much Easier and More Successful

It’s the scariest moment in fundraising.yes

It’s when you sit down with a prospective donor.

You look them in the eye.

And you ask for a gift.

What would happen if you turned the conversation over to your donor?

It could be quite different!

Here is a high-impact approach suggested by the very smart Andrea Kihlstedt, one of the masters of our business.

Andrea lays out six simple steps to secure a wonderfully generous gift from your donor.

And it’s step number 3 that is so revolutionary to me!

ALL of these steps engage your donor deeply. They let your donor take the lead.

Six steps to a perfect, conversation that ends in a gift the donor WANTS to give: 

1. Settle down and get in sync.

You can chat about fun and social things for a while to relax both of you.

Don't make your ask feel like a sumo confrontation!

Don’t make your ask feel like a sumo confrontation!

In the south, where I live, the small talk can go on for some time.

And you can’t rush this step – especially if your donor is enjoying herself!

2. Confirm why we are here.

I think it is good manners to open up the conversation by confirming what you are up to:

“We’re here today to chat with you about our new project and to discuss your interest in joining the campaign at some level.

You are not YET asking – instead you are asking for permission to discuss it.

3. Here’s the GOLDEN TIP: Turn the conversation over to your donor by saying:

“Tell us why you are so interested in our cause.”

Here are other ways to say it:

“You’ve been involved with us a long time, we’d love to know why you are involved.

“You know, you’ ve been so loyal to this effort – how did you come to believe so deeply in this issue?

“Tell us a little more about you. What is it that first drew you to our organization?”

You are turning your focus directly to your donor.

You’re asking your donor to present your case for support from HER perspective.

So you don’t have to make such a big presentation, instead she does it for you.

And how very elegant and appropriate to ask this question!

Again, it’s good manners. And it gives the donor some level of control over what’s being discussed.

Best of all, your donor is sharing with you what she deeply believes in, and what part of your project she cares about most. 

And you didn’t have to do the work.

Your goal is to find out where your donor's interests are.

Your goal is to find out where your donor’s interests are.

4. Make the ask based on your donor’s personal values and her specific interest.

“You’ve told me you are interested in this – and maybe this is what you’d like to do?”

“It sounds like you may be interested in supporting our xxx  program.

“Here’s a something that might interest you.”

BINGO… you’ve greatly increased the chances that she’ll say yes.

Step 5. Explore with your donor. Get specific.

Figure out what needs to be done next in order to firm up a gift.

“Well would you like to make this gift now or later?

“Would you like to meet the person who heads up our program?

“Do you need to visit with your financial advisor?”

Step 6. Confirm: Confirm the plan and clarify the next steps.

In this final this step, you tie it all down and specify what comes next.

“Ok, then we’ve decided that I’ll bring the head of the program over to meet you next week. And in the meantime, you’ll be checking with your financial advisors.”


This simple 6-step model works remarkably well as long as you frame what you want in the context of the other person’s desires.

What are your favorite asking strategies? Share some tips with a comment below!