Making the Big Ask: Part 2


How many times have you managed to secure a one on one meeting with a potentially new and influential donor and was nervous about making the big ask? Maybe it was a fundraiser event in front of hundreds of people but you had no idea how to appeal to a large audience and to convince them to support your cause?

If you’re reading this article there is a good chance you’ve already read part one of “Making The Big Ask”, and you are now familiar with a successful formula.  Understanding the three step formula that creates your big ask is extremely important. Your ask needs to consist of a problem, a potential solution, and how your potential donor can become that solution.

In part one, I also mentioned the importance of crafting your big ask to be as personal as possible. You need to be able to influence your potential donor to become emotionally involved with your mission. There is a good chance you’re involved in your mission because of the passion you have for it. Your passion is connected to all sorts of feelings, emotions, and experiences. Now given, most people are not going to be as passionate as you are about your cause, and that’s okay. But it’s important to know that most decisions are driven by emotion and not logic. One of your first goals should always be centered on getting people invested emotionally in what you are trying to accomplish.

Here is what you need to consider when using the three step formula for your big ask. I will break down each step and share with you key points that will help you in crafting a personal and emotional ask.

1. What does the world look like without your organization?

  • A. In order to ask for anything, you must provide a reason why you’re asking. Your mission or cause has no purpose if there is no need. Build your case for the need.
  • I would recommend finding a way to connect your potential donor to the need. Try to get them to see how the problem touches their life personally. Sometimes this might be a stretch to achieve and if you can’t, then utilize stories or testimonies that they can relate to personally. Try to get them to visualize themselves facing that particular need or problem. Get them to use their imagination to paint a picture in their mind.
  • When building the case for your organization or cause it’s always important to use testimonies from real people. People connect and relate to people, not organizations or missions.
  • Describe a scenario with little or no hope. You want your potential donor to feel the pain or despair because this will set you up for the second part of the big ask.

2. What does the world look like with your organization?

  • This is the part where you start to bring hope back into the visualization. Once you have successfully made the case of a legitimate need, you need to start building the case of why your organization is the answer or solution.
  • Using facts and statics are great, but they should never be the focus. Facts should only be the supporting evidence because you will never sell your organization or mission on facts alone. They should simply provide a logical reason that supports the emotional decision they are about to make.
  • You should utilize more stories and personal testimonies that connect and include your organization to the newfound hope or solution. Remember, your organization should be the catalyst for this positive change. This is a great time to use testimonies of actual recipients who have been helped by you and your organization.
  • Paint a picture of the possibilities; get your potential donor to visualize the future of what could be.

3. Provide the reason why someone’s involvement is the solution.

  • Now that you’ve gotten the potential donor to see the need and the solution, now is the time to show him or her that the solution is only made possible with their involvement. Provide a reachable goal that is just shy of crossing the finish line. Illustrate to your donor that they are the key to achieving a goal.
  • Encourage the potential donor that he or she will be able to see, hear, or touch the outcome they will be contributing to. Allow the potential donor to experience gratification for their involvement. Each donor should experience some kind of reward for being involved.
  • Once you’ve made the case for the need, the solution, and their involvement, you can then proceed to ask for their support whether that be money or some kind of participation.

“Making The Big Ask” can seem intimidating but once you’ve mastered the formula above it becomes much easier. As horrible or disingenuous as this might sound, it is needed. Remember, we all got involved with our cause or mission because we are sincerely convinced that something must be done. Most of us involved in the non-profit sector have great hearts and good intentions but not everyone shares the same convictions. It’s because of this fact that we must channel our sincere heart and motives behind a formula that will help you win over hearts and minds for your mission.  

Learning to sell your cause or mission should never be viewed as selling out. Everything still hinges on the passionate people who are dedicated to making a difference. Learning to better communicate and win hearts for your cause will help you change the world. No one can change the world by himself or herself; it takes an army of world changers and it all starts with you! Now that you’ve been fully equipped to “Make The Big Ask”, go out and make a difference!

Written by: Matt Moore, managing member of Heartland Direct Intl. and President of The Young Businessmen of Tulsa

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Making the Big Ask: Part 1


Can you imagine the world without non-profits? Without non-profits, our world would be less effective in tackling some of humanities greatest challenges. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics in 2014 Americans gave a total of 358.38 billion dollars to charitable causes, and in 2010 almost 10% of wages and salaries paid in the USA were from the non-profit sector. That’s a huge impact! Imagine if those contributions never happened? Who would help provide aid for those who need it most? Where would all of these passionate people go to work? Who would have the time and resources to work on these admirable solutions?

Luckily we don’t have to imagine such a world because philanthropy is alive and well. In a free market system non-profits are capable of organizing, capitalizing, and meeting the needs of others. Non-Profits are literally a gift from God! They are filled with energetic people with a passionate purpose and who live to change the world. It’s important that the mission and hearts of these organizations never die! Our world depends on them to harness the compassionate heart of the human race.

You might be thinking, but what does any of this have to do with, “Making The Big Ask?” I’ll explain. You see, the common denominator in all of this is that none of what I shared above is possible without people, “Making The Big Ask.” Sharing your heart and vision will not be enough to keep your organization going. You have to have the guts to ask for money. You have to know how to sell yourself and your mission all at the same time. You cannot just expect people to be as excited or passionate about your mission as you are. You have to be able to build your case in order for people to even feel compelled to give to your non-profit. They need to feel that the well-being of your mission is dependent on them and your “ask” needs to become personal.

As someone who runs a non-profit organization and has built a company for non-profits, I’ve noticed something very important. The best non-profits do three things very well when “Making The Big Ask”. It’s a case of support that all of them have mastered and in order to keep your mission alive you need to be able to paint the following picture in your ask:

  • What does the world look like without your organization?  – The Problem
  • What does the world look like with your organization? – Potential Solution
  • Provide the reason why someone’s involvement is the solution. – Makes the solution possible.

In part two, I’ll break down and explain each one of these points and share more critical information that will help you in “Making The Big Ask”.  Non-Profits are a vital key to solving some of our greatest problems and I believe your organization can do the same. Selling your mission and gaining support is a lot like selling a product or service and your mission’s success will depend on how well you can master and sell this three-step case of support.  The good news is, you are the answer, and you’ve just been given one of the most valuable formulas in making an effective “ask”.

Written by: Matt Moore, managing member of Heartland Direct Intl. and President of The Young Businessmen of Tulsa

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