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Mastering the ‘ask’

3 min read

Last week, I met with a trustee of one of Australia’s largest charitable foundations. During our discussion, she described two different kinds of asks. One of them she referred to as being stale and boring, whilst the other was described as exciting, compelling, and actually quite refreshing. Below are both asks. I’ll let you guess which one is more compelling.

Ask number one: “We need to raise $400,000 to fund program or project x. We were hoping that you would partner with us and consider making a donation of $100,000 to our charity. Please consider our request, as your donation will significantly help us reach our target amount, thereby enabling us to fully deliver on program or project x”.

Ask number 2: “We need to raise $400,000 to fund program or project x. We were hoping that you would partner with us and consider making a donation of $100,000 to our charity. Should you decide to make a contribution, your pledge would be completely conditional on us raising the balance of the target amount from other philanthropists, foundations and our community of supporters. We are taking on this challenge because we are confident that our community values the good work we do and will do whatever it takes to ensure we hit our target. And, if we aren’t able to raise the full amount, well, if our community won’t get behind us, then, why should you? It’s really all or nothing.

With so many charities out there, all competing for the same dollars, donors have become a lot more sophisticated with their charitable giving. Whilst in previous generations donors satisfied their charitable urges by giving their annual contribution to a select group of their favourite charities, today more and more people are viewing their charitable giving as another form of investment. “Where can I get the most bang for my charitable buck.” In other words, where will my charitable dollar make the biggest impact.

One of the key determinants of such impact, is the ability of the charity to follow through with their promises and commitments, just as they would like donors to follow through on theirs. The all or nothing approach provides the donor with the knowledge and comfort that their donation will certainly go towards funding the promised project.

If you think about it, it would be quite absurd to have it any other way. Would you ever walk into an electronics store, hand over $1,000 dollars to the cashier and meekly say “I hope you can give me a TV in return”. Of course not! You would never hand over the cash if you weren’t guaranteed to receive the TV in return. So why should charitable giving be any different? Why should people give over their hard-earned money without a guarantee that the promised project will be delivered?!

Additionally, when a major donor is considering which charity to support, an important factor in the decision is the extent of the charity’s community support. Being able to demonstrate to a major donor that the community supports your work, provides the major donor with important social proof, demonstrating that others have bought it to the good work that you are doing.

Finally, unfortunately many charities lack the confidence in their own ability to deliver. Whilst they may put on a brave face, and never actually verbalise this to their supporters, it’s safe to say that they’re not always brimming with confidence. When a donor is approached by a charity that is supremely confident in their mission, their level of community support and ability to raise funds, to the extent that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is by setting themselves an incredibly high stakes challenge – that’s refreshing.

Peretz Shapiro, Managing Director & Fundraising Specialist, Charidy Australia and Asia.


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Peretz Schapiro is an experienced leader with a real can-do attitude. An strong entrepreneurial streak with proven results in launching successful startups. Skilled in Management, Building out teams, Sales and Fundraising, with a passion for empowering others.


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