What’s Wrong with “Ask > Thank > Report > Repeat”

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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.

Old Way or New WayMy pal Steven Screen is one of the best fundraising copywriters in the U.S. Seriously! He and his friend Jeff Brooks have a great podcast called Fundraising Is Beautiful. You might want to check it out.
One of the things they like to promote is their rule of thumb for effective fundraising:

Ask > Thank > Report > Repeat

I like this concept. It’s smart! We all know that too many nonprofits just “”Ask > Ask > Ask.  So, “Ask > Thank > Report > Repeat” is much better. But I think it’s missing one very important additional element— ENGAGEMENT! Therefore, I think the following works better:

Engage > Ask > Thank > Report > Repeat

Valuable engagement opportunities will involve your supporters on a deep, emotional level. 
Here are just a few ideas to show you what I mean. You can provide:

  • Offers to get involved (such as a chance to volunteer)
  • Offers to participate in events (such as walks, rides, golf outings, galas)
  • Offers to take a tour (of a hospital, for instance)
  • Offers to watch a video
  • Offers to download an eBook or infographic
  • Offers to send a letter to Congress (for advocacy)
  • Offers that give supporters a chance to tell their story (so they can explain why they care)
  • Offers that give supporters a chance to give you their feedback (via a donor survey)
  • Offers that give supporters a chance to meet you, your staff, your volunteers, or your leadership (face-to-face, via a webinar or a Google Hangout)
  • And others offers…  the list is endless

Sadly, most fundraising is absent meaningful engagement because it’s time-consuming.
But, nowadays you can leverage technology to provide fantastic one-to-many engagements. Without engagement, your relationship with your supporters will focus more on the transaction. Engagement will bring the transactional nature of donating up a level— to a serious, emotional relationship.
What do you think?


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7 years ago

So true! Great advice.

6 years ago

The examples you provide are all offers – which are all other “asks” we would be making to donors and non-donors alike. An “ask” is usually for a monetary gift, but it doesn’t have to be! This post more adequately describes how you can engage your donors with unique asks that aren’t always about money!

6 years ago
Reply to  Morgyn-Britney

Indeed! That’s “Engagement Fundraising!” Thanks for engaging with me!!


[…] we follow what I refer to as the MarketSmart Rule because I first saw it spelled out this way on Greg Warner’s blog: Before soliciting them again, […]

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