Despite its triteness, the following platitude regarding our work is true:
“If you don’t ask, the answer will almost always be ‘no’.”
We need to be out of our offices, asking for specific gifts. However, to do this work well, asking alone is not enough. To round out this statement, I would add the following:
“And if you don’t engage before asking, the answer rarely will be ‘yes’.”
Engaging your prospect before an ask can be as informal as seeking their advice, feedback, or counsel on a particular topic of import. Or, it can be as formal as inviting them to serve on an advisory board or a committee. In addition to increasing the prospect’s buy-in, involving them before you ask increases your understanding of what a successful solicitation should look like for them. You will have a much better sense of who should ask, when to ask, how much should be asked for, and for what priorities.
If you want more “yeses,” engage the whole prospect, not just their checkbook.