I recently saw a LinkedIn post mentioning that fundraising is “all about the relationship, not the ask.”
It had several likes, and I can see why. In this profession, most of us are “confrontation-reluctant” (an “ask” is confrontational). It’s a soft, vanilla industry that we’re in, and we like the easy way out.
But as I have mentioned before, the top 5% in our industry know that fundraising is marketing and sales and that an “ask” is critical. Unfortunately, most in our community would rather play touch football. They don’t want to tackle making the ask, because they see it as a big and scary linebacker.
Here’s a true story:
Several years ago I believed it was all about relationships. I spoke at conferences (for free; even paid my own way), gave out free books, free advice, made friends and built up solid relationships that I still maintain to this day. Then one day, at a conference I was presenting at in Houston, a lady walked up to me and said, “Viken, you are wonderful. I can’t believe how much you taught us today … all for free!” It made me feel great — until the next morning. That’s when I discovered that she signed up for the services of one of our competitors, instead of PlannedGiving.Com. Why?
I never made the ask.
A light bulb went on. I woke up, reevaluated my methods, and asked myself: Is it the relationship, or the ask?
It turns out that the answer is quite simple: It’s both. If you do not ask, you will not receive.
A relationship is just a relationship without the ask. And the ask is rarely ever possible without some sort of relationship. To be truly successful, you need to be comfortable with both. Stick with this strategy if you want to be in the top 5% like my clients and friends. Over time, you’ll even found that you’ve surrounded yourself with others who do the same — and you’ll also find that your career will soar.
Get out of the vanilla zone if you want any kind of success in your life.