What’s In My Inbox | To ask or not to ask…that is the question

April 11, 2017

In this installment of What’s In My Inbox, I’m imparting insight in the form of a lesson on what not to do. You probably already know this, but sometimes, knowing what not to do is just as vital as knowing what to do.

Around this time last year, Sandy Hook Promise surveyed me, and I talked about it. I was happy to see another survey again, and this time it prompted me to make a gift.

My gift was immediately followed by another ask, this one for a monthly gift. Say what?!


Honestly, as a donor, I was immediately taken aback, and it almost felt as if I’d been slapped. However, as a fundraiser and a researcher, I signed up for a monthly gift. I’m curious to know what they will do next and how they will steward me. Will I receive a call? Will anything different happen, other than the standard thank you email? I’ve given in the past and never received any direct mail from Sandy Hook.

This whole “ask post-gift” thing is tricky business, and I’ve heard reasonable perspectives on both sides. Me, personally? I’ve explained for awhile now (including in my Basics & More trainings) a careful series of steps geared toward securing the second gift within 60-90 days following the first gift. But I don’t recommend an ask in the thank you, and I never have. I reached out to my dear fundraising friend and monthly giving expert Erica Waasdorp and she gave her thoughts on it, providing some very useful and specific advice.

It’s a good approach, but I would recommend giving a little bit more reasoning for asking for the monthly gift… build in a very short story, show how monthly gifts will make even more of a difference, also not sure why it doesn’t start until next month…  

the approach works very well for petition signers who are then converted to give monthly, one of my clients gets like 200 to 300 new monthly donors a  month that way.   

how did the approach above make you feel as a donor? how would it have made you feel if they had told more of a story and engage you as to why monthly gifts are even more important?

I’m always encouraging my readers and students to experiment more and test, test, test, and I always will. But what I would really love to see them test – and what would make a genuine difference – is the simple act of picking up the phone to say thank you.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Cahalane April 11, 2017 at 2:17 pm

The practical question is how it’s working for them. And I wonder, as they’re a fairly new organization, whether they have enough information to really tell.

But as a donor, and someone who cares about how donors are treated, it feels rushed. Grabby. Like from first date to “let’s get married, NOW!”

As Erica says, a really good reason, a story… something feels missing here.

Pamela Grow April 11, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Well said, Mary (“let’s get married, NOW!”) I’m thinking a better approach, in addition to including a story/reason, would be to follow up with an email thank you series, culminating in a monthly giving ask.

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