How do you actually make an ask? How do you get those words out of your mouth? A lot of fundraising newbies and veterans alike get hung up on this.
I find that the easiest way to address this is to have a memorized ask structure that you use every time you make an ask.
Here is my structure … in almost every ask I make I use the phrases “would you consider” and “join me.” It typically goes like this … “would you consider joining me in supporting this project with a contribution of $5,000.” Or perhaps, “would you consider joining me in supporting our cause by volunteering on the gala committee.”
I almost always use these two phrases because they work really well for me. Almost everybody says YES! Now they’re not necessarily saying yes to what I indirectly asked for — they’re saying yes that they will consider it. That is all I really need them to do. We will consider doing almost anything. We will consider giving a million dollars to a charity — we may not have it, but we sure will consider it. It gets the ask conversation going with an easy YES and sets us up for success.
The other key component of my ask structure is the phrase “join me.” We are a community, a nation, a world of joiners. We like to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. So encouraging prospects and donors to join you lets them experience that sense of community. It also shows that you are already personally invested and gives you additional credibility (please make sure that you have already made your donation or commitment before you use this phrase).
Together, “will you consider” and “join me” make up a really nice ask. It is a little softer and it also has a pretty high success ratio. You’re not going to get instant replies with it (unless they were really ready to do it), but you’ll get a lot of “sure I will consider that, let me talk with my spouse / go back to the office and look at it / talk to my accountant / etc. This is what you are really after anyway. You do not need an instant answer, you just need them to give the opportunity proper consideration.
Having a memorized ASK structure really helps to get the ask out of your mouth, with a lot less stress. It will eventually sound very natural and you won’t even have to think about it. So figure out your own structure and put it into action on your next visit.