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Timing is everything, but when is the best time to ask?

As fundraisers, there can be a lot of pressure to make ‘the ask’ and bring the money in. People think it’s easy, but it isn’t. More art than science, when and how you pop the question is going to depend on a number of factors. So when is the best time to make that ask?

Generally speaking, giving typically peaks in November and December – unless you’re looking for event sponsorship, in which case the summer months (May, June, and July) are the hottest times to pop the question. But this is the tip of a very complicated iceberg. While it’s important to make the most of these peak giving times (think Giving Tuesday, for one) if your strategy is only rooted in general rules then you will likely come up short. Because pitching your ask isn’t just about finding the right time of year. It’s about finding the right time for your donors.

Let’s imagine you’ve just run a successful emergency appeal. You’ve got thousands of new donors on your books, and the consent you need to move forward. What next? Research suggests that nonprofits should wait 6-12 months before making a new ask. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is letting your donors go cold in this time. Put yourselves in their shoes. You hear nothing for six months. Until you get a letter asking you for more money.

Are you inspired or insulted?

It is a well-known fact that donors thanked within 48 hours are far more likely to give again. So if you want to set the stage for a new ask, make sure you’ve at least said THANK YOU. But really, from the moment that donation comes in, you need to take your donor on a journey – one that shows them the value of their gift, shares stories of real-life impact, and inspires them to give again. There is no one channel to achieve this, rather a combination of several. Direct mail. Social media. Email. Your website. The phone. It is important to build a rapport with your donors and find out as much about them as you (reasonably) can. Why did they give to you? What are their motivations, their inspirations, their preferred way, or time, to give?

Use your data. You will be surprised how much it can tell you – and the more you understand, the better designed your donor journey will be. There is no silver bullet, but as a general rule you should always be looking to prioritize relationships, and this means giving yourself the time and space you need to lay the groundwork and create opportunities for engagement. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t ask, include a link to your donation page or call to action. But don’t let this drive your communications. Donors will see right through it!

If you shift your focus to relationship building, you will find it’s much easier to make the ask – that is, if your donor hasn’t already sent a second donation ‘just because’ (it happens!). If they don’t respond, it is important to know when to stop. Because asking the same question over and over again isn’t asking. It’s pestering. And your job is to create a healthy, engaging, and constructive giving environment that inspires action through real-life stories, strong communications, and a mix of hard and soft asks. Get that right, and the rest will soon start to follow.

Want to see how thankQ CRM can help support you and your team as you plan out your ask timing?  Contact us to set up your personalized demo.