One of our best pieces of advice for major gift fundraising sounds a bit awkward and unnecessary at first. That advice? Ask for permission to ask.

    Ask for permission to ask? Doesn’t that add an unnecessary step? Wouldn’t it take a lot less time to present your case, respectfully ask for the gift, allow the potential donor to consider the request, respond to their questions and proceed from there to finalize the solicitation?

    How does it even work?

    In major gift fundraising, it is critically important to develop an engagement strategy that allows enough time to cast your organization’s vision with potential donors, listen carefully to their input, respond to questions, and finally, at the appropriate time in the process to say:

    I’d like to ask for permission to ask you for a gift. I don’t want to ask for too little or for too much. How might we secure a leadership gift from you?

    This question most often results in prospect asking:

    What is a leadership-level gift?

    The follow-up discussion gives you the opportunity to share the campaign gift chart and how you’ve defined a leadership gift for someone of their giving capacity, as well as to introduce naming opportunities, all of which focus the donor’s attention on and consideration of a gift.

    Asking for permission to ask also puts a potential donor at ease, allowing them time to reflect on what they’ve learned and make a decision as to what they’d like to commit. If needed, it allows time for the discussions and experiences necessary for both the potential donor and your organization to arrive at a preferred outcome. And if they’re ready to give now, they can simply do so.

    Most importantly, it also allows the donor to tell you how to best to proceed with securing his/her gift.

    As awkward as it may sound and as tempting as it is to plow through major gift calls as quickly as possible, know that asking for permission to ask for a gift creates great outcomes for all involved!

    If you’d like more information on how to effectively ask for leadership gifts, we’d love to be a part of the conversation!

    Posted by Mike Bussey on Mar. 6, 2017
    Mike Bussey

    Written by Mike Bussey

    Mike Bussey provides a comprehensive portfolio in fundraising and strategic management for YMCAs, churches and other faith-based organizations. Prior to joining the Donor By Design team, Mike served for eight years as YMCA of the USAs Financial Development consultant to 350 YMCAs in 14 Midwest states, as well as to the Jerusalem International YMCA.

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