Master the Art of the Big Ask in Your Next Solicitation Campaign: Blog Series Part 1

Fundraising and development are the beating heart of the nonprofit sector. Whether organizations are advancing charitable, higher education, arts, medical, or religious missions, they simply cannot survive without donors, enrollees, members, and other contributions. So, what’s the secret to securing this vital support? As you’ll discover in this blog series, much of the answer to this million-dollar question lies in the big ask.

To shed light on mastering the elusive art of the big ask, our communications team caught up with our president and 30-year print industry veteran, Jim Rosenthal. Serving a leadership role with capital campaign involvement at two large nonprofit organizations and specializing in direct mail marketing technologies, Jim is uniquely qualified to lend valuable insider perspective on the facets of an effective solicitation strategy.

In this blog series, we’ll summarize Jim’s practical advice for nonprofits and sprinkle in insights from other respected sources, starting with the foundation of it all: the factors that drive giving.

The Drivers of Giving

Before we consider the most effective strategies for making the big ask, it’s critical to understand “the why” behind giving. In other words, why do people give? For this answer, we consulted the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which suggested that people give because:

  • Giving is gratifying
  • Giving makes people feel good
  • Giving reinforces personal values
  • Giving helps people make a difference
  • Giving introduces future generations to the virtue of generosity
  • Giving encourages the donor’s friends and families to give as well

Besides these qualitative factors, we also turned to scientific literature in search of more quantifiable justifiers for giving. According to a literature review of empirical philanthropy studies by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), the central driver of giving is almost too obvious to mention. Drawing on 500 papers on the key factors that drive giving, the ARNOVA review revealed that an overwhelming majority of people gave because someone merely asked them to. The study found that very “why” to be true in over 85% of donations studied.

Could it really be that simple – ask, and you shall receive? As Jim astutely notes, the answer to this question is yes – and no. Check back, or subscribe to be notified of the next article in the Master the Art of the Big Ask series.

The full series includes:

  1. The Drivers of Giving
  2. The Power of the Big Ask
  3. The Art of Crafting the Big Ask
  4. 8 Print Ideas for Making the Big Ask Successful