How to use tiny asks to retain donors

How to use tiny asks to retain donors

Fundraising involves a lot of asks.

But not every ask needs to be a big one. The reality is, timed and designed right, tiny asks can reap big rewards for your development efforts. In fact, I think they’re actually one of the best kept secrets of successful donor retention.

There are, essentially, two types of fundraising tiny asks.

The first one is to ask why somebody did something. You can time this for when a person signs up for your newsletter, volunteers, or donates.

These tiny asks are incredibly powerful because they allow you to:

  1. Gain the insights you need to do better
  2. Create a positive association between you and the individual

A simple ask of why addresses both of these two critical components of donor retention.

Your donors will tell you about themselves, why they connect with your mission, what they want out of their relationship with you, and how they hope to help. And you can use these insights to build longer lasting relationships with donors, as well as to refine your fundraising program overall.

The second type of tiny ask is one where you ask someone to do something for you.

This goes a bit against the prevailing thinking in fundraising that says you should build a relationship before asking a person to do something for you. Done right though, it builds deeper donor relationships and attracts more supporters to your work.

Let me show you what I mean.

First off, the relationship building rule is in place for a very good reason. We all know people who ask us to do things too soon or too often, and it certainly doesn’t endear them to us, right?

But great fundraisers know there are ways to use tiny asks as a means of building a relationship, even early in the donor experience. So what kind of an ask is appropriate and how should we make it?

Well, my favorite kind of tiny ask is to encourage a new supporter to refer another person to the organization. This has three key benefits:

  1. Donors strengthen their relationship to your organization by doing something for you (ie. referral)
  2. Donors strengthen their relationship to your organization by having close peers who also support your work
  3. You rapidly expand your supporter base by leveraging your donor network

Of course, it’s a bold move to ask a donor to do something for you early in their experience, so you want to be cognizant of the balance in the exchange.

Whether you’re asking donors why they chose to support you or to bring in their friends, always remember that your real goal is to use the tiny ask as a means to create a relationship between you and your donors that successfully retains them from year to year.

You’ll be amazed by the big rewards you can reap from a couple tiny asks.

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Written by Kyle Crawford

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Kyle Crawford is the Founder of Fundraising Genius, an innovative fundraising course for universities, nonprofits, and foundations. 

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