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The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project, or Business Venture , Updated and Expanded Edition

ISBN: 978-0-470-48094-6
272 pages
January 2010, Jossey-Bass
The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project, or Business Venture , Updated and Expanded Edition (0470480947) cover image


A completely revised edition of the must-have resource for increasing your nonprofit's bottom line

This thoroughly revised and updated edition of the best-selling book The Ask is filled with suggestions, guidelines, and down-to-earth advice that will give you the confidence to ask anyone for any size gift, for any purpose. Written in winning language, filled with sample dialogues, and offering a wealth of tips and tools, this book addresses common mistakes made when asking and shows how to correct each mistake, providing guidance and direction on how to make a great ask.

  • Offers step-by-step guidance for learning personal solicitation skills
  • Filled with real-world tools and techniques for raising money or support
  • Contains advice for overcoming situations such as hesitating to ask for money and following through on the ask
  • Written for fundraisers from any size organization

Includes information on how to apply asking skills to a fundraiser's personal and professional pursuits.

Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.

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Table of Contents

Foreword (Ivan G. Seidenberg).




Part I What Do I Need To Know Before I Ask?

1 What Money Means to You and Why Ask?

What Does Money Mean to You?

Why Do You Hesitate to Ask?

Know the Person You Are Asking Before You Make the Ask.

Every Organization Has Its Own Charm.

People Like to Give Money.

Focus on Positive Results Not Negative Forces That Perceivably Get in the Way.


Looking Ahead.

2 Do You Have a Well Thought-Out Plan of What You Want?

The Importance of a Well Thought-Out Plan.

Case Statement for Nonprofits.

Business Plan for Businesses.

The Script for Each Ask.

Time Frame for the Ask.

The Warm-Up.

The Ask.

The Compelling Case.

Transitional Statements.

The Ask Amount and Purpose.

Examples of Specific Asks with Specific Amounts.

Benefits of the Gift.

Benefits of the Business Venture.

Remaining Silent.

The Anticipated Response.

The Close and Follow-up.

Who Speaks and Who Listens.

Fundraising Language.

Three-Step Method Prior to Any Ask.


Looking Ahead.

3 How Do I Know Who to Ask and When to Ask?

Who Should Be Asked?

Every Person Must Be Treated Individually.

Wealth Does Not Always Translate into Transferring Wealth.

Research Can Help to Prioritize Who to Ask.

Research—From a Distance.

Research—Up Close.

Prioritizing Your Top People.

Asking Friends, Relatives, or Colleagues Does Not Have to Be Stressful.

When Should You Ask?

The Readiness Formula.






Having Some but Not All of the Readiness Elements.

Asking for Money in Hard Economic Times.


Looking Ahead.

4 Who Should Make the Ask and in What Setting?

Who Should Make the Ask?

A Charismatic and Confident Personality Goes a Long Way.

Every Asker Must Give First.

Every Asker Must Have the Time Before, During, and After the Ask to Follow Through.

The Reward Is in the Ask.

Four Eyes Are Better than Two.

Executive Leadership as Part of the Ask.

Donors as Part of the Ask.

What Is the Best Setting for the Ask?


The Golf Course Ask.

Positive and Professional Dress and Demeanor.

Positive Body Language and Tone of Voice.

Making the Call to Set the Meeting for the Ask.

Paper or No Paper Before, During, or After the Ask.


Looking Ahead.

Part II—How Do I Make the Ask?

5 Asking for a Cause—Small and Large Charitable Gifts.

Asking for a Small and Significant Charitable Gift.

Asking for a Large and Transformational Charitable Gift.

Troubleshooting Tips to Apply Prior to the Ask.


Looking Ahead.

6 Asking for Yourself.

Asking for a Job-Related Cause.

Asking for a Job.

Asking for a New Job Title.

Asking for a Raise.

Asking for a Creative Project.

Asking for a Business Venture.


Looking Ahead.

7 Handling the Responses to the Ask.

Preparing for the Response.

Addressing the Person’s Response.


Looking Ahead.

8 Following Up with Each and Every Ask.

Next Steps After Each Ask.

Juggling Your Time to Do All the Follow-Up.

Troubleshooting Tips for the Follow-Up.


Looking Ahead.

9 When the Answer Is “No” and When the Answer Is “Yes”.

A “No” Answer.

A “Yes” Answer.


Looking Ahead.

10 Pulling It All Together.

About the Author.


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Author Information

The Author

Laura Fredricks, JD, is an expert fundraiser, an internationally known inspirational speaker, and principal owner of her own boutique consulting company for nonprofits and businesses (www.laura-fredricks.com). She is author of The Ask: How to Ask Anyone for Any Amount for Any Purpose and Developing Major Gifts.

Prior to opening her own company, Laura was the vice president for philanthropy at Pace University in New York City, where she raised $92 million in six years. She has been teaching nonprofit business management and fundraising techniques since 1994 for the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Duke University, New York University, and the Smithsonian Institution. She holds a communication degree from Rutgers College and a law degree from Western New England College School of Law.

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Press Release

January 29, 2010

“Asking is a part of every aspect of our lives. It should be as natural as walking, having an enjoyable conversation, smiling, and breathing . . . but I know for many people it is the one thing they dread the most,” says fundraising expert Laura Fredricks. In her new book, THE ASK: How To Ask For Support For Your Non-Profit Cause, Creative Project, Or Business Venture (Jossey Bass, A Wiley Imprint/February 2010), Fredricks shows people in both the non-profit and business worlds how to make asking for anything easy, meaningful, and rewarding.

Fredricks, who has spearheaded highly successful capital campaigns at both Pace University and Temple University and who teaches her winning strategies to organizations worldwide, has created a step-by-step guide that anyone can use. She covers nearly every type of asking situation from raising million-dollar contributions to funding a new business to getting a raise. Filled with exercises, anecdotes, case studies, and sample conversations, THE ASK shows readers what to do before, during, and after they ask for money or ask for themselves.

Understand Your Own Relationship To Money First

According to Fredricks, the first step in the asking process is to understand what money means to you. Perhaps money helps you determine your status or sense of self-worth. Or perhaps it’s something that you find stressful or unpleasant to talk about. Thoughts about money can range from what you have to what you do not have, what you want, and what you cannot afford. “People who are comfortable with money make very good askers,” Fredricks explains. Therefore, she devotes time to helping readers understand their personal relationship with money and the fear that they may feel rejected when they ask for it.

Create A Detailed Plan

The key to successful asking is being organized and having a detailed plan. In today’s difficult economy, people want to know as much as possible about what they are being asked to support. If you are uncertain about the facts or the future of your organization, or unclear about why you think you deserve something, the person being asked is likely to say no. Fredricks shows readers how to develop in-depth, structured plans for nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals.

Making The Ask

Throughout THE ASK, Fredricks is clear that it is critical to make the Ask in person. She acknowledges that there are times when this is difficult to do, but emphasizes that the chances for success are greatly enhanced by face-to-face meetings. She helps readers structure the meetings, decide where they will take place, and plan what they will say. She also gives advice on researching whom to ask, ways to cultivate that person, and timing.


Perhaps the biggest secret revealed in THE ASK is this: the Ask takes 25 percent of your time – the follow-up is 75 percent. “Every Ask needs to be followed up until you have an answer. The key is to vary the communication and vary the communicator,” Fredricks says, presenting in-depth follow-up strategies. She also explains the best ways to handle both “yes” and “no” answers. “Don’t beat yourself up when you receive a “no” answer. Thank the person and leave the door open for a future Ask.” When the answer is “yes”, make sure that everyone involved thanks the person for his or her generosity, and recognize that this can be the beginning of many yes responses to come. Fredricks shows readers how to develop these long-term relationships whether it’s for an organization or an individual.

Whatever you want to ask for, Laura Fredrick’s advice will help you get positive results. She is an expert at making the Ask an exciting and life-enhancing experience.


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The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project, or Business Venture , Updated and Expanded Edition (US $39.95)

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