Burning Questions: I’m Afraid to Ask

July 26, 2018

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Written By: DBD Team


This July, we’re answering burning questions we hear from many clients and non-profit colleagues across the country. Chances are, the question might be burning in our readers’ minds, as well.


We hear this question all the time:

“How do I get over my fear of asking for a donation?”

We hear it from new volunteers, long-time volunteers, new staff, seasoned staff and CEOs. This fear of asking is common and a topic we cover a lot in these blogs.

Many volunteers or staff are willing to do almost anything for their organization except ask people to support it. Yet most dreams or projects or programs will never happen unless somebody has the courage to ask.

For starters, the ask should happen well after you’ve built a relationship with the prospective donor. The best and most successful asks occur after a series of conversations where the prospect shares what is important to them and where their interests lie. (If you are going in for an ask during the first conversation, you should be afraid!)

What are some ways to build confidence and overcome a fear of asking?

  1. Give First. It is easier to ask someone to support your cause when you have led by example.
  2. Believe in Your Dream. People give to big, passionate visions. It is essential that you BELIEVE in what you asking for and are able to tell that story with conviction.
  3. Listen. The better you understand someone’s values, interests and passions the better you will develop a relationship and understand who, where, what, why and when you should “ask for a gift.” People are more likely to listen to you if you listen to them first.
  4. Go Together. Working together as a team, a staff person and a volunteer can learn from each other, listen twice as well, and borrow courage from each other when it’s time to ask.
  5. Prepare. What will you ask for? Why should they give? Where is the best location to make an ask? How much should you ask for?

If you’ve taken these steps, the actual ask will be much less intimidating. You’ll have built the trust and earned the opportunity to ask them to join you in support of your vision. And when you experience their joyful “yes,” you’ll have the confidence to go out there and do it again with a new donor!

Need a little more confidence? Read on…

Asking for Permission

Willing to Wait

How to Face Down a Monster

Turn it Up

Tell Me Your Story

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2 responses to “Burning Questions: I’m Afraid to Ask”

  1. John C Alexander says:

    More great advice…thank you!