Five Maples’ Fundraising Blog

Why you should ask your donors for $100.

I’ll bet that if you look at the distribution of your organization’s last annual fund gifts, you’ll find that by far the most common gift amounts are $25, $50, and $100.

To demonstrate this I compiled a data file of over 160,000 annual fund gifts from 30 of our clients—more than $25 million in gifts.

This chart shows the distribution of those gifts from $1 to $100. There are 571 different gift amounts represented. But, notice how most donors skip from $25 to $50 and then all the way to $100 without stopping in between? These organizations have used a variety of ask amounts and techniques but the results are still gifts in the same round numbers.

Donation Frequency Chart

The likelihood of these donors giving $50 is two times more than giving anything between $25 and $50. The likelihood of them giving $100 is more than three times more than giving anything between $50 and $100.The following chart gives the details.

Your goals with ask amounts, then, are

  • to move givers below $25 to $25;
  • to move $25 givers to $50;
  • to move $50 givers to $100.

I don’t mean that the only amounts for which you ask are $25, $50 or $100. What I do mean is that you should use a table of ask amounts that combines the two psychological factors of anchoring and round numbers.

It also means that a table of ask amounts is a better method to use than a formula that multiplies the last gift by a percentage.


The last gift was $25.00. The ask string should be $100, $50, $25. It has these advantages:

  • It uses the round numbers with which people are comfortable (cognitive accessibility in psychological terms).
  • It uses the principle of priming by starting with a high but still reasonable amount. The highest number is always first. The goal is to anchor the donors’ thinking with a higher number of $100. Now moving to $50 looks reasonable.
  • By using the donor’s last gift as the third number, it encourages the donor to at least continue at that level.


The last gift was $41.00. The ask string should be $100, $75, $50. In this case the donor’s last gift is not a round number. So, for the third ask number we round $41 up to the next common round number.

I recommend that you use our downloadable table of ask strings. It has been developed through data analysis and experience and incorporates the principles I’m discussing. It works hard to encourage those gifts of $100, $50 and $25 that you need.

For more information on asking, read the following posts:
Why anchoring improves your average donation.
Ask strings for donations above $100: How to do it.
Above $1000: How to handle ask strings for major donors.
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!


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