Asking For The Major Gift – Part 1 of 3

Sections of this topic

    One of the things I find most frustrating about teaching classes in fundraising is the frequency in which people cry about not knowing the best/easiest way to ask for the gift and/or ask when/where will be the next class in “How to Ask.”

    O.K. I understand. A significant percentage of volunteers/leaders who are involved in fundraising for their NPOs are afraid/ashamed/embarrassed to ask others for money, even when it’s to help people who really need the help!!

    My approach to Asking for The Gift is simple: Don’t ask until the donor is ready to say, “Yes.” If the Ask is done at that point, the cultivator/solicitor knows the dollar figure for which s/he is going to ask … and the donor should have that same figure in mind.

    Wow !! Sounds like magic, but it isn’t….

    In my postings on Prospect Cultivation (see: and Prospect Evaluation (see: fundraising-for-nonprofits/2010/09/07/ evaluating-your-major-gifts-prospects/) I indicated that the person who does the cultivation is the person who will eventually do the Ask. And, since this person was close to (or became close to) the prospect, s/he also needed to be involved in that prospect’s evaluation.

    Since the cultivator has (ideally) transferred to the prospect the same feelings for and commitment to the NPO’s mission/programs and the interest in being recognized for his/her gift, when the time comes to Ask, both the cultivator and prospect should be at the same place intellectually and emotionally.

    As part of the cultivation process, the cultivator has talked about his/her support of the NPO, how it’s made a difference and how good s/he feels about having given and having been recognized for his/her gift(s).

    There has been discussion about the NPO’s programs (current and planned) and what funding will be needed to provide for all the people who are being and will be served.

    This process is not intended to be sneaky. If the prospect isn’t aware that s/he is being cultivated and that an Ask is in the future, then s/he is probably in a coma.

    Watch for Parts 2 & 3 of this topic – Next Tuesday and Friday

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, I’ll be pleased to answer your questions. Contact me at
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