The Six Types of Asks

Six types.

There are 6 main types of “asks” that I see in fundraising.  Let me tell you what they are, then make a couple of observations. 

As I go through these, look for the type that your organization tends to use…

More General Asks

The ask is Organizational

The donor is asked to support the organization.

  • “Will you please support our work?”
  • “Please join us as we…”
  • “Will you partner with us?”

The ask is Conceptual

The donor is asked to do or provide something that’s a concept.

  • “Will you please provide hope to a person”
  • “You’ll help provide refuge…”
  • “Will you walk alongside someone as they…”

The ask is About a Topic

The donor is asked to support one area or part of the organization’s work, but it’s still conceptual.

  • “Your gift today will provide education!”
  • “Will you help provide habitat restoration for wild birds?”
  • “For Moms experiencing homelessness, will you provide housing?”

More Concrete Asks

The ask is Specific

The donor is asked to do something more specific.

  • “Will you provide a year of school?”
  • “You can provide 1 square meter of sanctuary for wild birds.”
  • “Your gift will provide a night of housing for a Mom experiencing homelessness.”

Note: if you’re wondering how to highlight a specific part of your organization’s work while still raising undesignated funds, download our free whitepaper here.

The ask is Specific with a Price

The donor is asked to fund something specific, and given the price to fund it.

  • “You can provide a year of school for $78!”
  • “1 square meter of sanctuary for wild birds costs just $150.”
  • “Your gift of $48 will provide a night of housing for a Mom experiencing homelessness.”

The ask is Specific with a Price, and is Timely

The donor is asked to fund something specific, with a price point, and what they’re being asked to fund is needed/about to be needed.

  • “Your gift before August 26th will provide a year of school for $78!”
  • Before the migratory birds arrive next month, will you please give $150 to provide 1 square meter of sanctuary for wild birds?”
  • “Your gift of $48 will provide a night of housing for a Mom experiencing homelessness.  No one should have to sleep in a car during this heatwave.”

As I thought about the different types of Asks, I noticed something that I hope will be helpful to you: there are times and places for both “more general” asks and for “more concrete” asks.   

Here’s what I’ve observed:

  • “More general” asks tend to be successful with people who have a lot of context about your organization and what you do.
    • These people already know the importance of your work, and they already know some of the specifics.  Think “major donors that you’re in relationship with,” grant-making organizations, and at events when you have time to give people the whole picture.
  • More specific asks tend to be successful to people who do not have a lot of context about your organization and what you do.
    • Asks that are more specific tend to work better in direct response fundraising: email, the mail, on TV, etc.  In those mediums, most of the audience does not have much context about your organization and what you do.  They simply don’t know.  So being specific and concrete is really helpful for them.

The lesson, as always, is to know the audience for any given piece of fundraising, and meet that audience where they are.

Steven

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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