After you have acknowledged and affirmed your donor, built trust, and presented your case for support, it is time for the ask! Here is an example of language to use when it seems like the right time to transition from presentation to the ask:

“Dave, based on the information I’ve shared with you here, do you have any concerns about this project? Any questions I could answer? No? Would this be a good time to share with you what we’re going to need financially? This is a $55,000 project. We’re looking for three donors of $10,000 or more. Would you be willing to take one of those positions, to be one of those partners?”

Your prospective donor may, at this point, suggest they need time to talk to their spouse or to give some thought or prayer to the level they can commit. Affirm that! “That’s awesome. I totally understand. When would be a good time for me to follow up with you about this? I don’t want to bug you about it. You tell me.” 

Let them set the timeframe in which you should follow up. “Great! If you find that you have any other questions or concerns between now and then, just give me a call.”

If you’re unsure about the donor’s possible receptivity, you might ask: “Does anybody in your circle of influence come to mind who might be interested in a project like this?” 

If the donor is with you and willing to recommend friends, he is probably ready to donate himself. If not, maybe you need to go back to trust building, or the presentation of the case. The answer to this question defines where the donor is on his personal journey. 

If you’re unsure about the specific dollar amount that a donor might give — let the donor see the total need, and set the bar himself: “Here’s the project, here’s what we’re trying to do. It’s going to cost $250,000. I’m going to need a donor to give $50,000, and four donors to give $25,000. I’ll need 10 donors to give $10,000 each. Now I know you have a vision for this. Where would you see yourself in this project? Do you see yourself as the top donor? Or somewhere else on the chart?” 

Be sure to add these phrases, statements, and questions into your personal lexicon for donor relationships when dealing one-on-one with a potential major donor. They will greatly help you!