As I See It | Missy Gale, CFRE | President & CEO

Make the ASK now, before the end of the year

Does it seem as if your mailbox and email inbox have been bursting at the seams with direct mail pieces from politicians and holiday-based, end-of-year appeals for donations? If philanthropic exhaustion is starting to creep into our psyche, why would I suggest that now is the time for you to make the ASK of your donors?

The ASK I am referring to is a highly personalized, one-on-one direct request, offering a donor the opportunity to make a gift in support of a need at your organization. If you’ve focused on stewarding your donors and prospects throughout this year, you are undoubtedly aware of their individual circumstances. Likewise, they should be well aware of your organization’s needs.

Here’s how I see the world right now:

Emotions are running high this year. People are stepping out and stepping up for what they believe in. That includes supporting nonprofit organizations they view as extremely important in keeping the fabric of our community from fraying.

Americans really want our country to be safe and strong. At home, in our communities and neighborhoods, we are acutely aware of how the pandemic and economic downturn has affected our families, neighbors and friends.

For the most part, human beings are social creatures. Thanks to sheltering at home and social distancing, we are missing one another, especially family and friends we have not been able to see.

As we look toward the upcoming holiday season, we know it will not be the same. Holiday traditions such as concerts, parades, religious and cultural traditions, and large family gatherings and parties will be mere memories of past celebrations as we continue to deal with the social realities of the pandemic.

I think when we look back at 2020, we’ll find charitable giving was at an all-time high! I think we’ll surpass giving of years past because we are individually motivated to help. I truly believe a one-on-one verbal request is something your donors may be waiting for and appreciate—socially distanced of course—by phone or video conference.

Are you worried about over asking? Don’t be.

Some of your donors may have already demonstrated an outpouring of generosity earlier this year. For them, another thank you call will be appreciated. In general, donors welcome a personal call because they see it differently than requests they may have received from your organization in the mail or from your social media posts.

Here are a few tips for help make the ASK more successful:
  • Request a meeting. If the donor is comfortable meeting you in-person, be sure you can provide a safe, socially distanced, private environment. If the donor would rather meet virtually, schedule a call or video conference.
  • Clearly explain to the donor why you want to meet. “I am calling to see if you would be willing to meet with us over the next week to discuss “happy charity” and how you may be able to help us as we approach the end of what has been a unique year.
  • Purposefully build the right ASK team. Include a passionate board member, organizational expert or leader.
  • Plan your ASK based on previous stewardship and cultivation conversations you have had with the donor this year.
  • Structure your ASK to include a suggested giving range and multiple ways for the donor to fulfill the gift. Open the conversation with something like, “’happy charity’ will be glad to tailor your gift agreement in a way that will meet your giving plans and needs.”

Still worried about making the ASK? Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen – a flat ‘no’ or a ‘not now, maybe later’”? Chances are the disinterested donor will deny the meeting or ask you to defer it to a later time which allows you to plan for the future.

More often than not, you’ll get a YES, meaning more resources to help your organization meet its mission and fulfill vital needs. In addition, you’ll have more satisfied donors because you offered them the opportunity to play an important, relevant and timely role in the success of their favorite nonprofit—your organization.

So, what are you waiting for? Make the ASK.


About the Author

As president and founder of M. Gale & Associates, Missy Gale has dedicated almost three decades to crafting unique strategies and solutions to complex fundraising projects and organizational issues, resulting in transformational fundraising success for her clients. With more than ten years at the helm of M. Gale & Associates, Missy has assisted nonprofits in North Texas and the Southwest in healthcare, arts and culture, social services, and education. Missy is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and holds the Certified Fundraising Executive credential. She has presented at numerous international, national and regional conferences. In 2014 Missy was honored as the Outstanding Professional Fundraiser by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Fort Worth Metro chapter. She has also served as national chair of the Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC).