chapter 9 Ask a Real Prospect

Don’t spend a lot of time trying to work through all your anxieties about asking for money. You may never be completely comfortable with the process (few people are) and it may never be your favorite part of the work you do for the organizations you care about. As a friend of mine who works for an organization addressing discrimination in the workplace says, “I don’t like asking, but I don’t like corporations getting away with sexism either. So I put on my big girl pants and I just go do it.” The more you do it, the less you will fear it. I have asked thousands of people for money, and at some point years ago, I realized that I didn’t really care if the people I asked said yes or said no. I was happier when they said yes, and less pleased when they said no, but mostly I felt grateful they had listened to my request. And regardless of the answer, my next step would be asking someone else.

In this chapter we look at a key variable in successful fundraising: whom you ask; in the next chapter, we explore in detail how you ask those people.


There is an old saying in fundraising: “You have a better chance of getting a gift if you ask than if you don’t.” This is so true, but it is even more true that you have a better chance of getting a gift if you ask a prospect and not just a random passerby.

All our fundraising ought to be focused as much as possible on people we think would be interested in our work. However, since personal solicitation ...

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