Posted by Jay Wilkinson

When it comes to fundraising, making the ask is one thing—sealing the deal is another. Sometimes closing your request is the most difficult and confusing part.

Explaining your nonprofit’s need and asking for a specific donation amount is the easy part. It’s the “wrapping up” part that can trip people up. While there’s no magic formula or exact science to closing an ask, there are ways to help turn the tide in your favor. Consider these four factors:

  1. People act on emotion. When it comes to making arbitrary financial decisions, people often do what makes them feel good. And making a donation is an arbitrary financial decision. Your donors don’t support you because they have to; it doesn’t put food on their table or pay their electric bill. They give because they want to—it makes them feel good, whether that means feeling kinder, more connected or more important.

    You might feel like using logic and reason (because logically your nonprofit organization needs money in order to operate), but from your donor’s point of view, financial giving is typically an emotional act. Don’t focus on your need as much as you focus on the people she’ll help, the impact she’ll make and the lives she’ll change with her gift.
  2. Make the donation request about them, not you. You have bills to pay. A new initiative to fund. And your donations are down. But your donor doesn’t care nor should she. Declining revenue and increasing costs are not her problem. Instead of talking about how much you need her gift, shift your thinking to, “What’s in this for her?” A chance to connect with others? An opportunity to support a cause she’s passionate about? A safe place to leave a legacy gift? A tax benefit? If you focus on your donor’s interests, you’ll sound less desperate and more relevant.
  3. Educate, don’t sell. An organization that teaches a donor about something he cares about will be more successful than one that just pitches a cause. If you’re a nonprofit that supports women and children affected by abuse, don’t just stop at, “Here’s what we’re doing; will you please write us a check?” Educate. Talk about the families you’ve helped. Show pictures of your shelter. Or even invite them to volunteer or get involved in way that’s more up close and personal. They may say “no” to donating, but “yes” to getting involved in another way—and that may increase the chance of a future donation.
  4. Listen more than talk. This might be the toughest fundraising tip yet, but it’s important: Be okay with silence. Don’t fill up every minute of your ask with facts, figures, statistics and a compelling need. Once you’ve told your story and made a donation request, stop. Let your donor talk. Give him time to respond. He may need to think or he may have a few questions—your ask is not a one-way conversation. It might feel like that at first, but when it comes to closing time, it may take more dialogue between everyone before a decision is reached.

In every area of fundraising, it’s important to remain donor-centric. Whether you’re asking for a gift in person, online, via email or via text, the goal should be to make donating easy for your supporters. At Firespring, we create websites and online tools that are focused on just that: Enabling constituents to easily give. Start your free trial at or call 877.447.8941.