Making “The Ask”

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

Jerold Panas provided some compelling advice on how to do the ask in the Guidestar blog. Here is what he says that potential donors typically have on their minds, which the “asker” needs to address.



  1. Why should I give to this nonprofit? Why should I make it one of my priorities?
  2. Why is this particular program important enough to make me want to give? Does it interest me and will it make a difference?
  3. Why should I give now? Is it really urgent enough to divert funds away from others that I have been considering?
  4. And finally, why are you calling on me to make this gift? Why have you singled me out?

Mr. Panas also has some advice on the qualities of an effective “asker”.

  1. The most important attribute is that there is passion for the cause. The ideal “asker” is someone who is “burning in their bones” for the organization.
  2. It also takes persistence because it typically takes at least two visits to get the donors pledge, so you have to stick with it to get the appointments.
  3. The “asker” must have a talent for listening, to draw the prospect out to talk about their thoughts and feelings about the proposal. Askers should talk about 25% of the time and listen 75% of the time.
  4. The person that should make the ask is the volunteer who the prospective donor would have the hardest time saying no to. On the first call, you should ideally have that volunteer accompany the CEO to make the ask (Panas’s magic partnership).
  5. That volunteer should testify to the gift they have already pledged. If it was a stretch gift, the testimony is likely to be powerful and compelling. Never bring a volunteer that has not made their own major gift to the cause.

You can read Mr. Panas’s entire blog post at:

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,