Four Phrases You Can Use to Make Asking for Contributions More Comfortable

by Lori Jacobwith

I talk a lot about ways to raise money and not have to ask for the gift. . . but please don’t get me wrong. . . there ARE times it’s important to make the “ask.”

Asking for the gift is part or all of your work if you have the position of:

  • Executive Director
  • Development Director
  • Major Gifts, Planned Giving, or Annual Gifts Officer
  • VP of Advancement, External Relations, Planned Giving
  • Board Chair
  • Fundraising Committee Chair
  • OR any other position that indicates you are in a leadership role at your nonprofit organization and part of your job is to raise money

If you are like many of the people I meet, you may be “new” to asking for gifts. You are excellent at other aspects of your job, but asking for gifts gives you sweaty palms and heart palpitations.

If that’s the case, here are a few of my favorite lead-in phrases when asking others for a gift.

Someone Who Has Given $250 to $900 for at least one year:

“Thank you for your gift of $xxx last year. Today I’m here to invite you to join our giving society”

NOTE: This is usually a gift of $1000 to $100,000 or more for five years.

Someone You Know Well and Are Comfortable Practicing On:

“I’m new to this whole asking people to make a financial contribution thing so I chose you to have my first conversation with. . . thanks for seeing me.”

Then pause and smile. Wait to see what they ask or say before diving in and talking their ear off.

DO know ahead of time how much you’d like to ask for, even if you never say the amount out loud.

DO ask them what they like to know or hear when they are asked for a contribution.

Someone Who Loves Your Organization With The Capacity To Give More:

“Let’s talk about what it will take to have your passion for our organization equal your gift size.”

Once you say that sentence, be quiet and listen.

Have a mission moment story ready to share that allows the donor to see your excellent work and the costs of your work through the eyes of a grateful client/patient/student etc.

Make sure you show the value of a contribution at much larger gift amounts than the person has been giving.

Someone who Gives Regularly To Inspire To Move Up Your Giving Pyramid:

“It’s time to update you on your investments in our work and talk about any changes you’d like to make in the size of your investment this year.”

Be sure to share an update by sharing a mission moment story about someone whose life is different because of your work.

Make sure you show the impact of gifts at a dollar amount larger than the donor usually gives.

The point of any of these conversations is to be clear you are inviting a contribution. Make THEM feel comfortable about the conversation.

If you are worried about what to say and how to say it the focus is on the wrong person.

Focus on them. Not you.

This article was reprinted with permission of Ignite Fundraising. Copyright © 2016. Ignited Fundraising. All Rights Reserved. For more information about the author go to:

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