The Science of AskGenius
Learn how science, behavioral psychology, and data can help you set the perfect ask amount and inspire donors to give more to your next appeal.
What is an Ask String?
An ask string (also referred to as a gift table, gift string, gift array, ask array, ask ladder, bump table or giving suggestions) is the list of suggested gift amounts presented to the donor through a commitment form, donation page or pledge card.
Whether you’re sending a direct mail pledge card or creating an online donation page, displaying the right ask amount for each donor is critical to running a successful fundraising appeal.
Most nonprofits spend far too little time setting proper ask amounts and, as a result, they’re leaving millions of dollars on the table. Just think what a 10 percent increase in annual giving could mean to your organization. Imagine how many more people you could impact and lives you could change. Our mission is to help you do that.
How Most Nonprofits Set Ask Amounts
Most nonprofits spend an unbelievable amount of time processing gifts, inputting data, and paying for wealth research services. But, when it’s time to send a fundraising appeal, they fail to use that data to set proper ask amounts.
Sending everyone the same pledge card with a standard ask string ($25, $50, $75, $100) is a sure-fire way to raise less money than you should. Many donors would be happy to give more, if you’d only ask them for the right amount.
Grouping Your Prospects by High, Medium and Low Capacity
Segmenting donors into high, medium, and low categories will raise you more money than the one-size-fits-all approach, but only by a little.
Asking For 10% More Than Last Year’s Gift
This approach is slightly more advanced than a one-size-fits all or a simple segmentation strategy, but it fails to consider a donor’s true giving potential. Often, low-level donors have the capacity to give 200 or even 500 percent more than their prior gift while high-level donors could be insulted if you ask them to increase their already generous gift by another 10 percent.
There is a better way to set ask amounts. And not just for some people, for every donor on your list.
How to Set an Ask Amount That Raises More Money
Each donor in your database is unique and their ask amount should reflect that. Your donor’s giving history tells a story. The more familiar you are with those stories, the better you can engage with them and inspire them to increase their giving.
To do that, every donor in your database should be invited to make a gift at just the right level – not too high, and not too low.
Use Every Data Point You Have About the Donor
Every donor is different, but when you run as many fundraising appeals as we have, you’ll see patterns emerge. AskGenius sifts through the mountain of data inside your database to identify donors who are ready for an upgrade and helps you set personalized ask amounts for every donor on your list.
Use Visual Strategies to Nudge Consumers
Did you know that the best-selling bottle of wine at most restaurants is the second-least-expensive bottle? Or that hardly anyone purchases the $15 platinum-level car wash? Businesses have been using behavioral psychology to nudge consumers along a certain path for decades. AskGenius puts those same forces to work, helping you raise more money each year.
Turn Your Pledge Card Into a Cue Card
The average donor spends less than 3 seconds considering the amount they’ll donate to your appeal. That means your pledge card design – and the ask amounts you put in front of each donor – can make all the difference in the world. With the right ask string, you can inspire your donors to increase their generosity, year after year.
Run your best appeal ever with AskGenius
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With more than 100,000 donors in our database, there is just no way we could sort through all that data and set personalized ask amounts on our own. We’ve used AskGenius strategies for the past two years and our average gift has increased more than 20 percent!
Cande de Leon
Director of Mission Advancement
Diocese of Phoenix
Fundraising best practices
Through decades of experience running multi-million dollar appeals, we’ve discovered fundraising strategies you can begin implementing today.
Ask each donor for a specific gift versus a generic, open-ended ask.
Use data to ask for just the right amount from each donor. Don’t send everyone the same ask amount – if you do, your appeal will underperform, and you’ll leave a lot of money on the table.
Ascending Ask Strings
Our research shows that ascending strings (i.e. $100, $120, $150) raises more money than descending ask strings (i.e., $150, $120, $100).
Higher asks are there for psychological reasons – not necessarily because we expect people to select those amounts.
Always be testing. A good A/B test (or split test) will give you insight into donor behavior and help you design better appeals in the future.
Smart changes to the design of your donation form can inspire donors to make a recurring gift instead of a one-time gift.
Send Donors Online
Donors are more generous when they give electronically versus when they contribute through a direct mail reply device. Use segmented donation pages to match your direct mail segmentation and keep your appeal performing at a high level.
Always give donors the option to make one-time, monthly, or quarterly gifts. But never try to trick them into a payment plan they weren’t expecting.
Your donors will thank you for making your communications readable – and are more likely to give as a result.
Start using AskGenius today
Try it now for free. No credit card needed.