For Impact


Defining an Ask

WOW Email | | Nick Fellers

It’s really important that you and your team align around a shared definition for an ‘ask.’

Once you have a shared definition, your team communication is more efficient and effective. As well, you can work together to solve issues that might be preventing a team member from making the ask.

In the For Impact world a true ASK satisfies this checklist:

  1. We were WITH a prospect one-on-one (this could be in-person or by zoom/virtual).

    See Just Visit. There are exceptions to this, but 19-times-out-of-20, the ask is done in the context of a one-on-one conversation so that there is engagement and dialogue.

    Note: The point is to be with the prospect and not with anyone else. So, if the prospect were a couple, this could be 2-on-1 and/or if two members from your team were there it could be 2-on-2… adjust accordingly.
  2. We asked the prospect for specific help with a project, program, or level of support.

    In doing so, the dollar figure was clear. Example: “Sarah, we need your help, would it be possible for you to underwrite this project for $20,000?” It wasn’t open-ended. We didn’t ask, “Could you give whatever you can give?” Also, in being specific, the funding rationale wasn’t for ‘unrestricted’ or ‘operations’ – those aren’t specific. (See: Have a Funding Rationale.)
  3. The ask was a dialogue – a back and forth with questions and listening — so that we could ensure that we were maximizing the relationship at this given moment.

    Read: The Ask as a Dialogue to help with this concept.
  4. We will expect a YES or a NO – and will follow-up accordingly.

    Thinking about how to get to a YES or NO ensures you have covered appropriate mechanics and you can continue within a sales process. Otherwise, there is a risk of pending into oblivion or unclear follow-up.

Without the definition provided by this checklist, we often find:

  • A visit is scored as an ask.
  • There is no real ask – but rather a suggestion that it would be great to have the prospect’s help.
  • Some psychological shift whereby the salesperson only asks AFTER the prospect says he or she would like to make a gift. That’s not an ask. The relationship certainly wasn’t maximized, and it’s an incredibly low return-on-energy methodology.
  • The salesperson raises money without asking. This is similar to the point above. To be clear, just showing up DOES yield funding – this is our point behind JUST VISIT! But, in terms of measurement, this is harder to spot (and therefore coach around) and usually shows up because a salesperson will report the following:
    • 25 visits
    • 20 asks
    • 3 commits
    • 0 declines
  • If you follow this Ask Checklist, you SHOULD get a ‘no’ from time-to-time.
  • There was a request for help, but there was no funding rationale or dialogue. We see this with a lot of organizations that ARE raising money. They’re out visiting, they’re asking the prospect to help, but they’re not maximizing the relationship. (Not the worst problem in the world – but usually leaving tons of money on the table).


We’re pushing for everyone to be more assertive. That doesn’t mean you always have to ask for funding on the first visit. There are certainly many times where it’s a discovery or predisposition visit (but never 4-5 ‘cultivation’ visits before we ask).