Donor target ask amounts offend me

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

I keep seeing software or wealth screening companies providing fundraisers with target ask amounts.
I don’t get it. How on earth can a software provider or wealth screener (or, sometimes, even a prospect researcher) assume a ‘target ask amount’ without having had a single conversation with the donor?

I find this offensive and I think your donors might too.
And besides, wealth screening is rarely accurate since affluent supporters know how to hide their money.

Plus, this is not the right stage of the process to make assumptions. First, you should qualify the donors for your caseload (portfolio).

In other words, you need to see if they even want to have a relationship with you at all. 
Then, you need to get to know them as they get to know (and trust) you.

Only after they’ve qualified themselves, opted-into a relationship with you, shown signs of interest, and perhaps hinted at how much they might give can you put an ask amount next to their name.

I think unless you already know the donor, presupposing is dreaming. Guesswork. A hunch! Why bother spending time on that kind of nonsense?
Instead, spend time qualifying your supporters. Or better yet, put effort into helping them qualify themselves. Then you’ll be able to assign real target ask amounts to your spreadsheets.

I think that’s more fair, and realistic.

Related Posts:

>>Introducing the “Four Selfs” of Engagement Fundraising
>>Is donor qualification more important than donor identification?

3 responses to “Donor target ask amounts offend me”

  1. Greg,
    I think you are correct, that simply using a computer to figure out the ask amount for a specific donor, to a specific organization, for a specific reason is a really dumb idea.
    I do think, however, that such services are useful in making sure that development people and volunteers don’t underestimate a donor’s ability to make a gift — which I find to be the more common error.
    Like all tools, these services can be used properly, or improperly.

  2. Terry Balko says:

    I totally agree. Without learning about the donor’s goals in giving and getting a clear picture of how this integrates with their family, financial and estate planning goals how in the world can a “guess” of what the donor may want to give be accurate? It can’t. It’s like playing darts blindfolded and if it lands on a dollar amount- that should be the “ask“ amount. Where’s the planning? Where’s asking the donor the right questions about what they want to accomplish? When in doubt, ask the donor.

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