How to raise funds with “soft” and “hard” asks

You’ve probably heard of “hard asks” and “soft asks” in fundraising.

Maybe you’ve wondered what’s the difference? And how should we use them in fundraising?

A hard ask is clear, even forceful, about what you want the donor to do, and directive about how you want the donor to do it:

  1. Directly addresses the donor with a request to donate.
  2. Includes a problem that needs to be solved (or opportunity to be seized).
  3. Includes a solution the donor can make possible.
  4. Reveals a proposed cost of that solution in the form of ask amount(s).
  5. Is urgent, possibly with a deadline.

Hard ask example:

21 puppies are in our shelter, waiting for forever families. We don’t have the funds to keep feeding them. Your kind gift can keep hope alive for these precious pups. It takes just $31 a day to keep them going for a day. Please, can you give today to help these pups? Your kind-hearted gift of $31 will feed these puppies for a full day. $62 will feed them for two days.

Any communication that has raising funds as its purpose should have a hard ask. Better yet, more than one hard ask.

A soft ask omits one or more of those elements. Here’s an example of an ask that includes only #2 and #3:

21 puppies are in our shelter, waiting for forever families. We don’t have the funds to keep feeding them. It takes just $31 a day to keep them going for a day.

Here’s an even softer ask that uses #1 and a touch of $5:

Please give today to help the puppies.

When your primary goal is to raise funds, using only soft asks is far less effective than using both kinds of ask.

How to use soft asks: A message that also has one or more hard asks and, and usually should, contain a few soft asks.

Because a hard ask is relatively complex. You don’t want a message to be complex. Soft asks allow you to stay focused on the purpose of raising funds without weighing down the message.

Other uses for soft asks

Not everything you send to donors is primarily meant to raise money. Sometimes you connect in order to thank or inform the donor, or to ask them to do things other than donate.

In those messages, you might consider including soft asks that open the door to giving without getting in the way of the primary purpose. This can work very well, because one of the best times to ask is when a donor is feeling good about their previous giving.

Other soft ask approaches can include:

  • A reply device and return envelope.
  • Just a return envelope.
  • Just a giving page URL.


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog