Urban legend – An urban legend, urban myth, or urban tale is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories thought to be factual by those circulating them. (Wikipedia)
In part II of our three-part series, I am focusing on the “It’s All About The Ask” Urban Legend.
Specifically, this Urban Legend purports that fundraisers should be overly concerned with that moment with prospective donors when they are solicited. Unequivocally, focusing on the ask/solicitation is the wrong thing to do. And here is why. . .
It’s about the relationship, not the ask! I suggest that asking a major donor to support your institution should be like asking a girl to get married. If the fella isn’t 99% certain of the answer, he shouldn’t ask the question! The ask should be a confirmation of the many conversations you’ve had with the donor and within the context of the relationship. You both should have a good sense that an ask is coming sometime soon. And you both should have a strong sense that the answer will be affirming. An ask, then, is a natural culmination of a series of conversations.
Far too many presidents and development professionals view the ask as the most important element in securing a gift. Books have been written about “the ask,” and many conferences have been conducted to discuss the best possible ways to ask the donor. But I would offer a different thought:
For the bulk of universities, schools, and non-profits, the way you ask is really less important than you think. If you stumble, stutter, or otherwise struggle to make the smooth, polished ask, don’t worry. Donors who view you as authentic, your institution as meeting a meaningful need, and your priorities as important won’t need a salesperson to make the “perfect ask.” Instead, they will want a professional and a friend to help facilitate their giving in support of shared values.