Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

Above $1000: How to handle ask strings for major donors

We’ve previously shown how donors prefer round numbers. The pattern holds true for donations above $1,000. The following chart of 2509 donations above $1,000, compiled from annual fund results from multiple organizations, shows how much round numbers are preferred.

donations over $1000

Our Recommended Ask String Table uses these round numbers.

Major donors have the biggest influence on your annual fund result. Keeping their renewal rate high is essential. Gradually increasing their gift amount makes a big difference to the overall results.

Close attention should be paid to what you ask for from major donors.

For major givers with last gifts above $1,000 (smaller organizations) or $5,000 (large organizations) – or however you define major givers for your organization – different strategies are used by different non-profits. Here are some of them.

Customize the ask string based on your knowledge of their past giving or their capacity.

ask 1

Ask for only one target amount.

ask 2

Use no ask amount at all, just $________.

ask 3

One risk with this method is that the donor will give less than she would have if asked for a specific amount. Use this method only in conjunction with a meeting or phone in which you discuss the requested donation.

Or, use the suggested numbers from our Recommended Ask String Table.


In every case, check our Recommended Ask String Table when deciding the amount you ask. Using one of those numbers will be to your advantage.

Important! Whatever your method, the key to renewing or upgrading major givers is a personal follow-up before or after the letter is received. Don’t let your major donor support slip due to inattention!

For more information on asking, read the following posts:
Why anchoring improves your average donation.
Why you should ask your donors for $100.
Ask strings for donations above $100: How to do it.
How to use ask sentences to sustain and increase giving.

Download “How Ask Strings Work”

Download Primer: How to Use Ask Sentences

Get our help with your annual fund mailing.

You’ll get the attention to detail that you need. Call me at 800-437 7780 Ext 104, or Email Me Today!

Tags: ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply