How Smart Organizations Raise More Money


This is simple to explain, but it takes a bit of work to do. But here’s how smart organizations raise more money:

  • They customize the Ask Amounts for each and every donor.
  • The customized Ask Amounts for each donor are in increments of the Offer Amount.

Here’s what that looks like. Say you had recently given a donation of $100 to an organization. And today’s letter featured an offer of “$35 will train one volunteer to advocate for our cause.” The Ask Amounts should look something like:

  • $105 to train 3 advocates
  • $140 to train 4 advocates
  • $210 to train 6 advocates
  • $______ to train as many advocates as possible

There’s a lot going on in that example that’s helpful.

  • First, the Ask Amounts are all in $35 increments – increments of the Offer Amount. Because remember, your whole letter (or email, or newsletter, or event) should be about the Offer. So, it will make more sense to your donor if your reply card has amounts that are based on the Offer you are writing them about.
  • Second, the beginning Ask Amount is at or above the amount of your last gift. This is key to helping donors give as much they gave last time… or more!
  • Third, the description text (“…to train 3 advocates”) describes how many of the outcomes your gift will fund. This helps donors know exactly how much good their gift will do. It’s a proven tactic.

To do this, most smaller organizations use software to calculate the Ask Amounts and Outcome Amounts (“3 advocates”) for each donor. They’ll then merge in those amounts onto the reply card.

This takes real work, but it’s a tested, proven tactic to raise more money.

The Benefits to You

When your Offer Amount is low, and your Ask Amounts are at or above how much your donor gave last time, two positive things happen:

  • More people respond because your barrier of entry is so low. In other words, more people respond because it costs so little for them to make a meaningful difference.
  • You’ll raise more money because donor’s gifts will usually be at or above what they gave last time.

Increase the # of people who respond
+ Gifts at the same size or larger       _
= More money for your cause!

This post is excerpted from the Better Fundraising e-book “Fundraising Offers.” Download it for free, here.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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