Nonprofit Partner Blog

How to Make the Ask: Just Ask!

when to make the ask


In a recent webinar, Kathy Kingston, consultant and professional auctioneer with Kingston Auction Company, shared with Greater Giving her insights on how to ask for what you need to create a wildly successful event.

Avoid the 8 Big Mistakes

Asking can be intimidating, but by avoiding these common mistakes you’ll be much more successful:

  1. Not making a connection or introduction.
  2. Not asking questions to find out what the person’s true wishes and needs are.
  3. Not asking for the gift at all or not asking for a large enough gift.
  4. Talking too much.
  5. Not waiting after you make the ask.
  6. Leaving it up to the donor to take the initiative.
  7. Not following up at all.
  8. Not offering a sincere thank you in every instance.

The First Ask

The very first sale is to yourself. Ask yourself why you are involved in this organization. Why is it important to you? Have you made a cash contribution or donated an auction item?

The Magic Question

There are certain words that are very powerful in fundraising:

Would you be willing to consider…_____ (the ask— be specific),

so that ____ (describe the result, the impact)

for ___ (your organization).”

Then WAIT until the other person speaks.

For example:

Would you be willing to consider contributing a dinner for four at your restaurant so that we can save the lives of homeless animals for our Eastside Humane Society.[….wait…]


How to Ask

There are many different ways to ask: by letter, email, text, phone, social media, etc. But the most effective is the personal approach—a one-on-one conversation with someone with whom you have a connection. The first rule of fundraising is that people give to people they care about.

The Big 5 Asks

  1. Audience: You’ve got to get the right people in the room. Make that personal phone call and invite people to come have fun with their friends.
  2. Auction Items: Ask for high-yield, profitable items that your guests want.
  3. Sponsorships: Build the relationship and find out how to customize the sponsorship to match the company’s interests.
  4. Fund a need or special appeal: This is the biggest ask and the most powerful time of the event because it is collaborative giving.
  5. Ultimate Ask – The Gift of Influence: The most overlooked and powerful ask is the power to involve other people. “Can you invite others to the auction? Can you spread the word about us…?”


In the end, you just need to ask. Ask unabashedly. Keep asking. And communicate how your donor’s investment will impact your cause.


Check out our Webinar “Just Ask!” for more details, including:

  • Why you should ask on behalf of your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Why are people afraid to ask?
  • How to handle rejection.
  • Who to ask so you are not wasting your time (and theirs).
  • It’s not about you; focus on helping your donors understand how important they are.


Alex Saavedra Headshot

By Alexandra Saavedra, Marketing Manager, Greater Giving