I talk with a lot of nonprofit leaders who get really, really nervous about the wording of their fundraising ask. While I love the intentionality they show in wanting the right words, their fretting reminds me of power ties in the 80’s.

Do you remember those?

In the 1980’s there were all sorts of books about how to dress. And for many of us, we were told what kind of “power tie” we were supposed to wear. It’s as though if you wore the wrong tie your entire business meeting would fail.

Fundraising isn’t like that.

You’re not going to “mess up” an ask if you stumble over your words. Or if you say the monthly amount instead of the annual amount (or vice versa).

Because fundraising is a conversation with donors and people you hope will consider being donors.

Today’s “ask” is only a part of a long, ongoing conversation with the other person. Their response to today’s ask – or their lack of response – allows you to curiously follow up with them in the coming weeks. I find with donors and with so much of working with people, if you don’t know what someone is thinking it is smart to ask. You can ask them if they received your email. Or if they were put off by the ask. Or you can thank them for their gift.

The ask is important. But remember the ask is part of a longer conversation.

So get out there and ask for gifts. Even if you stumble over your words a little. It’ll make you more human.

Remember, your nonprofit’s fundraising is stronger than a 1980’s power tie.

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