Green Leaf of a Bio Plant in NatureLots of us will be thinking about how to be more “green” since today is Earth Day. But how can we make our nonprofits more green? As in taking in more dollars?


You knew that was coming, didn’t you? Asking for money is where the magic happens!

The 3 Best Times to Ask

There are 3 optimum times to ask for a major gift:

  • Before you meant to ask
  • When you meant to ask
  • After you meant to ask

Let’s look at these in depth.

Asking before you meant to

Successful fundraising involves cultivation, time getting to know the donor and letting the donor get to know you. Typically, these aren’t solicitation meetings. But from time to time, a donor might be so excited, they’ll indicate the level of their gift. “I’d give $30,000 to something like that!”

You have a choice: move past that comment, or acknowledge it.

You can nod and keep on “cultivating.”

Or you can stop and say, “We didn’t come here to ask you today…but since you mentioned that level of gift, would you like to make that commitment today?”

You have to get a feel for the situation. This is where asking is more art than science. Being honest– “We weren’t here to ask” — is incredibly powerful. It can work to even say, “Would you like to make that today or should we talk about that at a later meeting?”

I love being able to ask now because it gets us to thanking them so much faster! Thanking is always more fun that trying to get another appointment to set up an ask!

Asking when you meant to

It’s great when you’ve met a donor prospect, engaged them enough to have a feel for the right ask, asking is so much easier.

When you set up a solicitation appointment, be sure to say you want to get together to “talk about the project” or “discuss your involvement in the project” so they know the meeting has a purpose. If you set it up like this, getting to the ask is natural.

When that moment does come, ask for the specific dollar amount and then shut up! You need to let them process the ask. So just shut up and wait. They’ll let you know they’re done processing because they’ll be the first people to speak.

Asking after you meant to

Everyone chickens out at times. We lie to ourselves saying things like, “The timing wasn’t right.”

But remember: it is far less awkward to ask for money when you meant to then after you meant to.

Asking after you intended to means setting up another face-to-face meeting. Something that seems odd. This is where it starts to feel that you only are interested in the person’s money. But it’s important to still invite them to consider investing in your cause. So gut it out and get that next appointment!

Asking will add green to your nonprofit

Your nonprofit is making our world a better place. It’s worthy of people’s donations. So this Earth Day, commit to making your nonprofit more green by asking more often!

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