Asking for more money

A while ago, I was hoping to get a $50,000 donation from a donor, Mark, for a political organization I consult with.  (Candidates, I know that your campaign finance laws won’t allow you to receive this much, but there are some important principles you can glean from his story.)

We were having a banquet at the end of the year and I was really hoping Mark would sponsor the head table at $50,000.  We were also trying to raise money for a $100,000 matching gift challenge that we would announce at the dinner. 

The Executive Director and I called him up and we spoke with his assistant.  And she let us know that he just sent us $20,000.  All I could think was—Oh that’s wonderful!  AND Oh no!  I was hoping for $50,000, not $20,000.  So we thanked the assistant and then started to figure out what to do next.

So we decided to try to try another angle.  We decided to call Mark and thank him for his generous $20,000 and ask if he would make another consideration.  We already had $50,000 pledged toward our matching gift goal of $100,000.  So we decided to ask him if he’d also give $25,000 for our matching gift—and then told him we’d go to one of his good friends, Dave, and tell him what Mark did and ask Dave to also give $25,000.  Then we’d reach our goal of a $100,000 matching gift.

It worked!  When we told him our plan, he—over the phone—agreed to the extra $25,000.  He liked that we could leverage his gift twice—from his friend Dave—and then use it as a match at our dinner.  He also liked that it was a clear path to achieving our matching gift goal of $100,000.

I used several of the very important principles I’ve shared with you in the Raising to Win program. 

First, ask for a specific amount.  I asked for $25,000

Second, go back and ask for more.  And we did it over the phone.

One of the biggest hesitations I get from my private clients is to go back and ask for more.  Donors expect it.  One of the worst things you can do it take their money and then ignore them.  They believe in you and the principles you stand for.

My experience is that between 40-50% of all donors will give again if asked.

There is an old saying in business that it is easier to keep a customer than find a new one.

It’s a similar principle in fundraising – it’s easier to ask a current donor to give more than ask a new donor.