3 times you should not ask donors for money

When should you not ask a donor to give?

It’s an important question, because not asking is the most effective way there is to not receive.

But there are times when not asking is the right thing to do. I can think of three specific situations when it’s better not to ask than to ask:

  1. When a donor specifically requests that you not ask. Common courtesy says you don’t talk to someone who doesn’t want to be talked to. But in fundraising, it’s better than that: When someone requests less communication, they sometimes end up giving as much or more than someone who makes no choice at all.
  2. When it’s not worth your money to ask. With some donors, it might be costing you too much to ask. Someone who gives you $5 will most likely give you $5 each time they give. Pay attention to the costs and revenues of your fundraising by donor giving level. You’ll likely find groups where you’re paying more to ask than you’re getting back. This is often masked by the overall performance of the file as a whole.
  3. When you don’t need any revenue. If you really don’t need money, don’t ask for it!

The most important thing to remember is this: donors love to give.

Don’t decide for them that they won’t give this month. Default to giving them the chance to do what they love.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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