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Making the Ask: Guiding Phrases for Securing Major Gifts

donors fundraisers fundraising major donors major gifts transformational gifts May 22, 2023

Yesterday I came across a document from my early fundraising days in Canada. The Director of the nonprofit asked me for phrases she could use when asking for large gifts from donors.

I'd forgotten that I had created this document and "Key Phrases and Next Steps when Asking for Major Gifts". Even 20 years on, they stand up pretty well.

Asking for a major gift can be challenging for anyone. But mastering The Ask is important for nonprofit leaders. Fear of rejection and the pressure to secure a large donation can lead to a muddled request.

Worst case scenario, a poor Ask may lead to missed opportunities and an unrealized gift.

With the right preparation, a great approach, a few key phrases, and some confidence, anyone can make a successful ask.

I'll share some of the phrases you might use or tailor to your organization and donor to confidently and effectively ask for a major gift. Whether you're seeking a $1,000 donation or a $25,000,000 gift, these phrases can inspire donors to make a meaningful impact with their philanthropy. Remember that the most fruitful gift conversations happen when donor values align with your mission.

  1. "I know how much you care about [Cause or Issue], and your gift can make a real difference in this area." Acknowledge the donor's passion and commitment to a particular cause or issue. Connect that passion to your nonprofit's mission and impact. By demonstrating alignment and shared values, you can create a compelling case for support.

  2. "Your gift can make a transformational impact on [Nonprofit Name] and the people we serve." Highlight the impact that the donor's gift can make on your nonprofit's mission and the individuals or communities you serve. By framing the gift as transformational, you can create a sense of urgency and importance around the opportunity to give.

  3. "We are looking for visionary partners who share our commitment to [Nonprofit Mission]." Position the gift as a partnership between the donor and your nonprofit. Connect to shared values and a commitment to making a difference in the world. By emphasizing the donor's role as a visionary partner, you will create a sense of agency and pride in the gift.

  4. "Would you consider making a gift of [Specific Amount] to support [Specific Program or Project]?" Make a specific ask for a specific amount to support a specific program or project. By focusing on a concrete need or goal, you can create a sense of urgency and clarity around the gift.

  5. "Your gift will help us achieve our goal of [Specific Outcome or Impact]." Highlight the outcome or impact that the donor's gift will achieve. By focusing on a tangible goal, you can create a sense of momentum and progress around the gift.

Asking for a major gift is about building a relationship and creating a shared vision for change. Use these guiding phrases to frame your Ask, and inspire donors to make a meaningful impact and achieve their fundraising goals - and yours.

Good luck, and happy fundraising!

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