Suggesting Gift Amounts
Suggesting gift amounts is a simple but effective way to raise donors’ sights and secure more leadership gifts. One way to do this is by requesting a specific amount in the body of a direct appeal or within a phonathon caller’s script. Although there’s no exact science for determining the right ask amount for each donor, a general rule is that it should be significantly higher than the donor’s most recent gift but also reasonable and realistic based on what you know about the donor’s capacity and inclination. The trick is to do your homework and find an amount that is ambitious but not off-putting.
A similar method is to provide donors with a range of potential gift amounts for them to consider on the reply device. This is known as an ask array or ask ladder. Although it would be a lot of work to create a unique ask ladder for each individual prospect, you can build them for key segments. The idea is that segments containing prospects with higher levels of past giving or known capacity should receive more ambitious ask arrays. In phonathons, ask ladders can be used to guide callers on what gift amounts they should solicit from prospects as a first ask, and in subsequent asks if needed. Again, the trick is to find the right levels: ambitious but not off-putting.
Online giving forms provide an opportunity to combine suggested gift amounts and ask arrays. Harvard Business School’s online giving form includes a range of five specified gift amounts as well as an option to write in the gift amount of the donor’s choice. However, the form has preselected the $250 option, suggesting that $250 is a common (or even minimum) gift from the school’s alumni. This tactic might compel an otherwise $100 donor to think twice about the amount of his or her gift. Almost immediately after updating the form with these higher gift amounts, the Harvard Business School’s advancement team noticed an increase in the average gift size of online donations.
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