The Year of The Ask | Sharpe Group
Posted November 28th, 2023

The Year of The Ask

Why do people give? When do people give?

We can talk about the stock market, tax rates, various giving vehicles, but the answer is … People give because they are asked.

Relationship building is one of the best aspects of a fundraiser’s job. Keeping up with your donors and their passions is at the heart of what you do, yet it is easy to get caught up in committee meetings, analytics and forget the crucial part of the job: The Ask.

The best way to get to The Ask is to break the process down into actionable tasks:

1. Do your preparation.

a. Internal research: CRM, talk with coworkers who know your donor, check their giving history.

b. External research: A google search and check your local newspaper. Look for community involvement, business news, change in family status—all of these can impact their ability and willingness to give.

2. Identify genuine interests. This is the piece that comes naturally to most of us. Form a genuine and mutual bond through conversation, questions and follow up. The key here is active listening, which can be difficult while also keeping the conversation going. You may want to bring another set of ears along for the visit if your donor is amenable.

3. Discern which projects will most resonate with your donor and then Ask. Follow the clues and succinctly propose – you should have more than one project in mind. Show that you value and respect them by providing concrete support.

4. Tie up loose ends. Do this at the time of The Ask. Before you leave, identify open issues, answer questions or ascertain if other players should be included. Most importantly, set a concrete date for a follow-up call or meeting. ■

Kristin Croone, JD, is a senior consultant. You can connect with Kristin at or via LinkedIn.

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The publisher of Sharpe Insights is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Sharpe Insights may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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