10 Guiding Principles for Any Ask: Part IV | npENGAGE

10 Guiding Principles for Any Ask: Part IV

By on Dec 21, 2010


The final three suggestions in Laura Fredrick’s book “The 10 Guiding Principles for Any Ask,” may be the most important.  Here they are:

  • Always use “we” instead of “I” in any ask because that connotes that the ask is being done with all the strength and backing of the organization.
  • At the initial ask, stay committed to the ask amount.
  • The ask without the follow-through will result in no gift.

When I first read these, my mind said “Dah!” and I may have even rolled my eyes a bit.  But then I stopped to look back at my own 25-year career in fundraising and noted a few instances when my own failure to follow these principles resulted in a less-than-wanted outcome.

Think about the solicitations you have made, whether verbal or in writing.  Have you too allowed a personal discomfort or a busy calendar to get in the way of success?  Do you use language that shows your representation of the organization? Do you use language that contradicts your intended mission-funding ask by offering a “whatever you can do” alternative? Have you put the responsibility of the relationship onto the prospect instead of keeping it yourself?

It’s my experience that we grow into better fundraisers as we age, but I also think we grow into better fundraisers when we think.  Experience alone is not enough.   Take time to become the best organizational representative that you can be.  Stay engaged by reading and applying great resource materials like Laura’s book; ask someone you admire to mentor you; practice your solicitations out loud or through role-play and most importantly, remain professional.  Nothing diminishes an important gift ask as being uncomfortable and unprepared.


Katherine Swank, JD, senior consultant at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company, helps nonprofits apply statistical analytics and donor research to their fundraising efforts with an emphasis on planned gifts. She has raised nearly $250 million for mission funding during her nonprofit development career. Katherine is a retired affiliate faculty member of Regis University’s master of Global Nonprofit Management degree program, where she taught courses on wealth and philanthropy.  Along with writing for publications like Advancing Philanthropy and Philanthropy Journal, she is also a frequent presenter for industry conferences such as NACGP, AFP, APRA, and bbcon. Having grown up in a tourist destination in Colorado, Katherine has become an avid world traveler and is exploring her way through the 1,000 places to see before you die, albeit slowly.  Connect with her on Twitter @KatherineSwank.

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