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5 reasons to engage major donors in asking for money

5 reasons to engage major donors in asking for money

Should we ‘ask’ our existing major donors to help us to raise funds or to make an ‘ask’ from their friends? Does that help to raise more money? Does that help to retain the existing major donors longer?

In my experience as a fundraiser, I have found that when you ‘ask’ the ‘right’ major donors to give more than just money (such as getting them involved in fundraising from their peers), it helps them to get more connected with the cause.

In a few instances, I experienced that due to their involvement they themselves made larger gifts later on. I believe they did so because when they agreed to reach out to their friends, they carried out thorough research on everything and asked more stringent questions regarding governance, trustees, costing, details of the project and beneficiaries. 

I believe this process of more engagement helped them to be more connected and more generous with the cause.

Thus, your existing major donors to help you to raise funds or making an ‘ask’ or helping you to break into their network has many benefits, such as:

  • They will be more involved and engaged;
  • They may donate a higher amount and turn into long-term donors;
  • They will help you to reach out to new donors;
  • They will help you to reach beyond your immediate network for an awareness of your cause, even if their ‘Ask’ is not successful;
  • They will help you to reduce the ‘costs’ and ‘time’ to grow potential donations and raise awareness with less effort, which would have otherwise been arduous by taking traditional routes to reach out to new donors;
  • Their involvement will increase your overall ‘Ask’ success rate.

The latest edition of Richer Lives; Why rich people Give Theresa Lloyd and Dr Beth Breeze mentioned that “63% of new donors will consider a request if asked by the right person. And this means someone they regard as (at least) a peer. The bottom line is a lot of money is raised this way – by people saying to their friends, “Oh come on.””

They go on, saying that: “We are not suggesting that people will give only because they are asked by a peer, but it is an important factor in deciding which requests to consider.”

Peers’ influence might not be the only factor to inspire people to donate but it does play an important part in people’s decision to donate to a charity.

Similarly, Mathew Iredale, author of “Prospecting for philanthropists,” says that “one powerful motivating factor for persuading someone to support your charity as opposed to another with similar cause is a personal connection – a friendship or at very least an acquaintance between the person and someone who works for your charity or who already supports it.”

He goes on to mention the Ipsos MORI study which concluded that “across all the donor groups, there were feelings of obligation to donate relatively large amounts in sponsorship to friends, family or colleagues when they may not necessarily have donated to that particular charity otherwise.”


A word of caution

  • Not every major donor will feel comfortable to reach out to their networks, so it is our job to figure out the right major donors for making an Ask
  • We shall have to be prepared to empower them with right information, whether it giving more information about projects, marketing material or costs, accountability, transparency and so forth.
  • It is also important who should ask the existing major donors for their involvement: fundraiser, CEO, Trustee, Chair or another donor, this is our home work to figure out who is the right person to Ask them.


Ikhlaq Hussain is a major giving specialist, currently head of major gifts at Orphans In Need, trustee at Mind in Harrow, Board member and Fundraising Mentor at IOF (South East & London), and regular blogger on the topic of fundraising.

Ikhlaq Hussain is Head of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Orphans In Need, Trustee of Mind in Harrow Fellow at the Institute of Fundraising, and Fundraising Magazine's Top 25 under 35 fundraiser in 2018.

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