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Monday, January 22, 2018

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Asking Really Does Matter…
Michael Bacon, CFRE

June, 2012

Have you ever been involved with a visit to a prospective donor where YOU have spent the majority of time talking?  Do you ever stop to think about how the prospect might be feeling when no one asks her questions or listens to what she might have to say?

Too often, we unleash a torrent of words on our prospects as we present our amazing plans.  We are so excited to tell them about our building project or new program or annual fund drive that we never stop and ask them about their passion, their interests or their reactions.

Andrea Kihlstedt, co-founder of the web site, Asking Matters, reminds us thatevery ask should be a conversation with our prospects. In her model, The Arc of the Ask, Andrea takes us through a series of carefully planned steps and transitions that lead to an effective and powerful solicitation.

As a young development officer, I taught myself about capital campaigns by reading Andrea’s classic guide Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work.  Years later, I have come to know Andrea personally and my respect for her intellect continues to grow!

If you haven’t visited her web site,, check it out. Andrea has created a model of four different asking styles that help us better understand the characteristics and motivations of our volunteers.

  • Rainmakers – fact based, goal oriented, strategic and competitive
  • Go-Getters – big picture, high energy, creative and engaging
  • Mission Controllers – detailed, thorough, methodical, observant
  • Kindred Spirits – reserved, feelings-oriented, attentive, conflict averse

Knowing the style of your volunteers enables you to train them to use their personal strengths as they make an ask.  We all know the hardest part of this work is building the confidence of our teams for solicitation.  Not surprisingly, each asking style has a different
method of preparation that works best for them.   Andrea shares how to assemble asking teams by pairing different styles together for the strongest approach.

You can visit Andrea’s web site and take an assessment to learn your own asking style.  Andrea has also generously offered any of our Bacon Lee clients and friends a 20% discount to join her site, Asking Matters, by using this discount code,BACONLEE20 Members have access to an array of useful tools including an asking guide, the Arc of the Ask model, and an archive of articles about handling objections, dealing with volunteer anxiety, and building a prospect pipeline.

We can all improve our skills at asking for the gift.  By becoming better, the nonprofits we serve will benefit and the donors we partner with will become more engaged.


VIDEO: Training volunteers to ask


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