17 Golden Rules for Asking for a Gift

I have seventeen guidelines for asking for a gift. You can pass these on to your board members and volunteers. If you can add anything I’ve missed, let me know. I’ll bet you can’t!

Here are my, “17 Golden Rules For Asking For A Gift.”

  1. Know everything possible about the institution, its mission and vision, its programs and its impact.
  2. Make certain, in your heart-of-hearts, you’re completely committed to the worthwhileness of the institution and the significance of the project.
  3. Learn everything you can about the probable donor you’re calling on.
  4. Determine a specific amount you should ask for. This is after a careful assessment. Do not ask for a range – give a specific amount.
  5. Give thought as to how to express the amount of your request. Say it out loud several times before your visit. It will build your confidence.
  6. Now you’re ready to get the appointment. If you get the visit, you’re 85% toward securing the gift. (Getting the appointment is harder than getting the gift.)
  7. Practice, practice, practice. I still write out what I’m going to say.
  8. Write out in advance all the reasons your probable donor may put you off. Practice how to respond.
  9. When you make the visit, go in pairs. A staff person and a volunteer is a magic partnership.
  10. Call on your best probable donors first.
  11. Establish rapport in your early moments with the probable donor.
  12. It’s essential you probe for concerns. Ask questions. Listen 75% of the time. Talk 25%.
  13. Convey the benefit to the donor. It has to be a “win-win” for the institution and the donor.
  14. Remember: It’s not about money and it’s not about the organization. It’s entirely about the mission and the people who are served.
  15. When you’re finally ready to ask for the gift, use words such as: “I would like you to consider a gift of…”
  16. Don’t let objections rattle you. They are your best friends. Probe for concerns.
  17. You cannot leave a meeting without getting a commitment to something— either the gift or a date for another a visit.


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