Non-profits should get on with it – make the ask

Replay mail

Which charities acquire the most donors, the most gifts, and the largest donations? The ones who make an ask.

I’m not talking about asking for gifts of $100,000+. You and I know it takes a while to make a major ask. You and your organisation must have a solid relationship with the prospective donor and the timing has to be right for the donor. After all, this is the donor’s schedule and not yours or your organsiation’s schedule. This can take 18+ months.

I am speaking about asks which typically happen via direct mail, telemarketing, and online channels.

It puzzles me the number of charity pieces which are sent to donors and prospective donors and where the ask is either buried in the piece or there is no ask at all. Why bother to produce the piece? Even worse are the pieces which are sent containing a response envelope with no call to action.

A few simple steps will boost your charity’s bottom line:

  • Ensure there is an ask in every marketing piece.
  • Don’t make it a mystery for donors to figure out how to make a gift.
  • Make the ask prominent.
  • Make the ask multiple times throughout the marketing piece.
  • Offer the prospective donor multiple channels to make their gift.
  • Don’t make it difficult for the donor to make their gift by requiring them to cut panels out of newsletters and to complete other art projects.

I often times say Australian charities do not ask for donations enough throughout the course of a financial year. It’s true. I back it up by saying I am a “pushy American” making that statement. But, push the envelope. Donors will tell you when they have had enough and inform you of their communication preferences accordingly.