You have built a trusting relationship with the donor, who knows about your organization and opportunities and needs that can be addressed through philanthropy. Research has been conducted using a wealth assessment service, google searches down rabbit holes, and discussions with people who know the donor (street research). And you have asked the donor to meet with you and a trusted and respected volunteer or executive to discuss a gift, and they have agreed to the meeting.
How Much to Ask?
I have been an advancement officer and consultant for more than 40 years and have worked with or trained hundreds of nonprofit organizations. More than 15 years ago, it became clear to me that there is a need for a tool to distill the pivotal information you have gathered on the donor to arrive at a dollar amount to ask. The ask team needs to be confident that what they are asking of the donor is respectful, bold, and defendable.
We are excited that there is now a new tool for this that will be announced on September 12th. It’s called Abacus, and we’re going to tell you more about it on September 12. Count on something wonderful!
Beware of Money Bias
Research I conducted over ten years laid bare the profound influence of personal bias about money and institutional self-esteem. Over those years, I gave more than 400 advancement officers two case studies for a small and a large donor, using the same 21 empirical and behavioral data points for each. In small groups, they were instructed to arrive at a pledge goal and ask amount for a 3-year pledge. Using identical information, the officers’ ask amount responses ranged wildly from $25,000-$250,000 and $50,000-$3M, respectively. As an industry, we need to do better than this and find a way to eliminate personal and institutional bias from gift ask considerations.