You know the old adage: if you don’t ask your donors to give, they won’t!

How much then is an appropriate, thoughtful ask?

Not surprisingly, there is no magic formula.  It depends on the offer, the need (is it an emergency appeal?), time of year, type of donor (active or lapsed?)….and more.

Here are a few suggestions to help you through the maze.

consider Time of year

At the beginning of the year, it typically makes sense to start with a more ‘aggressive’ approach. And when I say ‘year’, I mean calendar, not fiscal. Donors don’t think in terms of your fiscal year, only your Finance folks do… sorry my inside voice escaped.

What type of array?

The level of assertiveness you choose will depend on a number of factors including the size of your file and the capacity at which each donor gives.

The ‘math’ for a gift array will vary but a typical one might look like:

□ Last Gift   Last Gift x 1.25  □ Last Gift x 2  and □ I prefer to give $_____

With this array in mind, give some thought about whether you want to set minimum and maximum amounts. For example, many of your $5 donors may have the capacity to give $20 – or more!  Be mindful of your database and the range of gifts your donors tend to give.

During the year, seize the opportunity to test a variety of gift arrays: ascending, descending, arrays based on annual cumulative gifts, an ask which has one gift suggestion circled with a ‘this amount will help’ note, an amount based on largest gift in one year, amounts rounded up or down – and that’s just to name a few. I’ve included a couple examples of those tests below:



But I still need to bring more revenue in the door…

Because you are a good fundraiser, you’re working hard to renew as many donors as possible.  But as December draws near, you may have to rethink your strategy especially if your renewal rate is low or simply to invite your current donors to send a year end gift.

The latter half of the year may be an opportune time to test a less aggressive array or simply and open-end ask.  Say what?  Asking the donor to set the bar?


An open-end ask like the one below puts the donor in the driver seat and encourages them to renew or send a special gift by telling you what they want to give – or can give.


From the testing we’ve conducted, we find that by offering donors an open end ask most clients see a boost in response or renewal rate with an average gift that dips a bit.  But in the end, the goal is to renew donors isn’t it?  Persuading donors to upgrade their gift can be left for future appeals (with proper stewardship before that happens of course!)

Bravo! You’ve landed that single gift…your donor has renewed their support to your awesome cause.  So….what are some ways to inspire them to join monthly giving?

Stay tuned…