Tips for Maximizing Your Ask Strategy

Date Published
Brett Jones

You have spent hours deliberating over the copy for your upcoming campaign. The designer has come up with engaging graphics that you know will standout and catch your audience’s attention. You have planned out a targeted segmentation strategy. You’re ready to launch your campaign, right?


So often we don’t take time to think through a key element of every campaign: the ask strategy. Before you pick-up the same ask strategy you have used before, here are some tips to consider when you craft the ask for your next campaign.

Lapsed Recapture and Prospects: Keep the goal of the campaign in mind. Average gift and response rate generally have an inverse relationship. Because the goal of recapture and acquisition efforts is file growth, unless it’s a mid-major giving program, don’t worry too much on generating a high gift average. Focus on maximizing response rate.

Gift Call Outs: Try highlighting the gift amount that is a little above the gift average or the donor’s current giving level.

Special Gift Appeal: Instead of basing the ask calculation on the most recent gift amount, consider using the highest recent gift – looking at the highest gift in the last 12-24 months – to see if you can increase your gift average and revenue.

Renewal: Vary the ask throughout your membership renewal series. Be more aggressive early in the series when you’re likely to have the highest response rate. As response declines throughout the series, consider trying to get a renewal below the current giving amount. At some point, it’s better to get the renewal at a lower amount than to let a donor lapse considering the effort and cost required to re-acquire a donor.

Sustainer Conversion: Sustainers can be difficult to upgrade. Ask donors to upgrade annual giving from the start. For example, if a donor is donating $60 annually, ask for $6 or $7 per month instead of $5. (For more about how you can upgrade your existing sustainers, go to Upgrading Sustainers – Time to Meet the Challenge.)

Symbolic Giving: Tying the gift amount to your mission can help convey the impact a donor can make. If you’re working with a food bank, perhaps the ask is based on the number of meals the gift will deliver. If you’re a public radio station maybe your ask is a day sponsorship. Just remember to keep it simple.  And be careful not to use restricted gift language so there is no confusion about how funds will be used.

The best ask strategy strikes a balance between the average gift and response rate based on your campaign goals. Use all the information you have available to you. Most important, don’t let your program run on autopilot. The ask strategy needs to be regularly evaluated to make sure it’s appropriate and maximizing the results of your program.

If you’d like help evaluating your ask strategy, contact Debbie Merlino.

About the Author:
Brett Jones
Vice President of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

I lead the Agency Services Client Management team. I challenge the team to continually improve our strategy, creative and service, and develop new ideas, so we can provide better solutions and outcomes to our clients.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love fundraising! In my career I have had the chance to work with many different organizations that are doing incredible work and really making a difference. I enjoy helping them meet and exceed their goals so they can advance their missions. 

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

I have always wanted to work with non-profits and love fundraising. It’s my way of contributing to the greater good. I can’t imagine what else I would do!

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I love reading, ice skating, and going to the beach in the summer, but most of I love spending time with my daughter.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Brett is my middle name. I’m actually Sara Brett. But don’t call me Sara if you want me to answer!

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. I was so proud of myself. I was so excited to visit my neighborhood friends by myself.

Get the fundraising solutions you need to fuel your mission.

Get Started

Finally, an End-to-End Fundraising Solution Accessible to all Nonprofits

DMW Fundraising and Member Benefits are now part of Allegiance Fundraising Group

Allegiance Fundraising Group brings together three well-established fundraising teams to create an end-to-end fundraising solution that makes it easier for you to reach your mission. Today you can turn to a single team for seamless fundraising strategy and implementation, donor management software, and membership loyalty programs.

Learn more about Allegiance Fundraising