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Making the Big Ask. How to Avoid a No.

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Vicki Rasmussen has raised tens of millions of dollars in one to one meetings with donors.  I caught up with her at a State fundraising conference and she agreed to share some tips with my subscribers (you!).

It is really important that you meet donors.  But what if you manage to get an appointment with a ‘top donor’.  What do you do when you get there?

For all but the smallest organisations (less than $200,000 fundraised income) If the expected gift is below about $10,000 then you probably need to make the ask then; the maths of trying to arrange another meeting may well not make it worthwhile.

But if it is potentially a really big donation, then you don’t want to blow it; the last thing you want is a ‘no’.

Vicki Rasmussen is one of those rare people that have spent a lot of time ‘making the ask’.  In less than three minutes, you can get her advice here on what to do in that meeting: And how to avoid the ‘no’.

This is her structure: each item in the funnel is explored until the wonderful prospective donor is in agreement.  Only then does she move to the next stage.  If she can’t move along, she may go and get more information, or look at a completely different approach.

This allows her to line up the ask maximising the chance of a yes.

It doesn’t always work though.  Vicki told me a while back, with one donor she ticked all the boxes off with them, then made the ask, for a cool million.  He laughed (!) and said he’d give her half.

Since then she’s given him the opportunity to make lots of other gifts, which he has. But always gives half the ask amount.


And here she explains her process.

(PS – sorry about the noisy bird, we had to keep re-taking because we were laughing at the squawking bird!)

Wanna learn more about making the Big Ask? Wanna learn how to avoid the dreaded “no”? Then check out our Mid Value Donor Super Course that is available to all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.


  • Sean Triner

    Sean Triner is a Co-Founder of Moceanic and Pareto Group. With over three decades of experience in fundraising and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in mathematics, Sean has a wealth of fundraising expertise to share with Moceanic members and blog readers. He is also a coach and available for bookings on the Coaching+ program for fundraisers to help answer your questions and work hands-on directly with you.

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