Who Invited You?

On Saturday night, my 6-year old daughter and I attended my first Daddy-Daughter Dance.  It was a fantastic event and we both had a blast.  Fun music, some finger foods, and about 125 dads who were giving their all on the dance floor for their little girls.

And I mean, the dads were really dancing.  No wallflowers.  We were line dancing, Y-M-C-A dancing, some guys were break dancing (or doing something that was supposed to be break dancing!).  Even the guys who struggle with coordination were out there!

Watching these dads dance when most of them probably haven’t danced since their wedding day, reminded me of a fundamental law of fundraising — the most important part of an ask is who is doing it.

“Who” is more important than the specific proposal.  “Who” is more important than the timing of the ask.  And “who” can even be more important than the amount of the request (within reason).

In fundraising we spend much of our time in prospect management meetings talking about the capacity of the prospect, their inclination toward giving to us, and the strategy to get the gift.  And while we do talk about who should be involved in the ask, my experience is that we don’t spend enough time here.  It can almost be an after thought.  But this is a huge mistake.

We should begin every strategy discussion about prospects focused on who should be involved in the ask.  Even if the ask is months away.  Begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey says.  “Who” asks is easily the biggest predictor of whether the commitment is made.

You see, 125 dads went to a Daddy-Daughter dance on a Saturday evening not because of their love for dancing (far from it for most), and not because they didn’t have other things to do.  These guys went because of who asked.

And yes, if she asked me to go again this coming Saturday I’d enthusiastically do it again.  Because when the right person asks, I’ll do something I wouldn’t normally do, and I’ll also be glad that I did it.



  1. Paying attention to every detail is the key to every aspect of an institution/organization. Details include the alignment of the needs and desires of the donor with the gifts and relationship of the one making the ask. Alignment makes everything go smoothly. Identifying “who” makes the ask may be done naturally in our preparation work but, I whole heartedly agree with Jason, we need to be intentional about determining “who.”

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