How to Ask for What You Want (And Get It)
Just the thought of asking for things can make even the most confident amongst us sweat. Whether it’s asking for something simple like a social media shout out or asking for a major donation, the “ask” part can really trip someone up. Not any more. It’s time to learn how to ask for what you want and get it. You simply can’t be successful in fundraising without this skill.
Let’s break it down.
3 Essentials to Ask for What You Want
Here are three simple, but essential, things that may help you ask for what you want and get it:
1. Never ask someone for anything unless you know how it will benefit them too. If you can’t figure out how it will benefit them, either you don’t know enough about the giver yet or you shouldn’t be asking that person.
2. Once you know how the giver will benefit from giving you what you want, you and the giver are in it together. You’re on the same side, figuring out how to make something good happen for both of you. (Think of being shoulder-to-shoulder rather than face-to-face when you ask!)
3. Never try to make someone give you something. Instead, find a way to let them help. When you feel squeamish about asking for something, it’s almost always because you haven’t figured out what’s in it for the person you’re asking. And really, you’re better off not asking until you have a sense of that. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out. Other times it not so simple. Sometimes there’s no good reason for the person you’re asking to give, and you shouldn’t ask that person at all. Find someone else to ask who has something to gain. Or reconsider whether it’s something you really want after all.
The Three Paradoxes of Asking
Here are three paradoxes of asking that are really remarkable. Be sure to keep them in mind the next time you ask someone for something.
1. The more you push someone to give, the more they resist.
2. The more you consider the other person’s needs and desires, the more they’ll give to you.
3. Mostly everyone enjoys helping, but very few people enjoy asking for help.
Want the big picture? Look in the mirror.
One of the best ways of understanding how to ask people for what you want is to pay close attention to how you respond when someone asks you. Whether a street person or your children or partner ask you to help them with something, you’ll find—if you pay close attention—that you respond both viscerally and rationally. And chances are good that your visceral response will be both faster and more powerful.
What does your experience tell you about how people might feel when you ask them for something? What lessons can you learn from that about how you should ask?
If nailing the ask is a must for fundraising, you can imagine how important it is for capital campaigns. Sign up for my free webinar, “How to Get Ready for a (Hugely!) Successful Capital Campaign,” and we'll talk about it. It's happening on Apr. 12 at 3:00 p.m EST.
Andrea Kihlstedt is an innovative leader and expert in capital campaign fundraising. She wrote "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work (4th ed)," often referred to as the “bible” of capital campaign fundraising. She founded Capital Campaign Masters and co-founded Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online capital campaign resource and platform.