chapter 8 Getting Comfortable with Asking

Asking someone you know for money in person is the most effective way to raise funds. If you ask all the people who you know give away money to give a gift they can afford to a cause they like, half of them will give something. (People who fit this description are called “prospects.” Not everyone you know will meet all three criteria.) Of the half who say “yes” to your request, half of those people will give you the amount you asked for; the other half will give you less.

The response rate you receive from personal asking is much higher than you can get from any other kind of fundraising. (For example, you can expect 1 percent of people to respond to a direct mail solicitation and 5 percent to give when asked by phone.) Moreover, you can ask for much larger amounts in person. It is rare, and usually silly, to ask for a $5,000 or $10,000 gift by e-mail or phone, because a substantial gift needs to be requested respectfully and responded to thoughtfully. So although an e-mail request for such an amount without follow-up is not a good idea at all, it is appropriate to ask for such a sum in person if you think the prospect is someone who gives away money, can make such a gift, and has an interest in your cause. Personal solicitation is also used when asking a donor to increase his or her gift or when asking a major donor to consider a capital gift in addition to an annual gift.

In studies in which people are asked why they made their most ...

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