The Donation Maximization Blog

Why Building a Custom Ask Amount Formula isn't the Answer



Colleges and universities work very hard throughout the year to maximize annual giving revenues, and ideally, hit their targets: whether that happens to be $2 million, $200,000, or any other specified amount. As long as they reach their goal, they are happy – though of course not complacent, since the next campaign is always around the corner!

Naturally, just like their counterparts in other nonprofit organizations, Annual Giving Development Officers are constantly searching for tools to help them achieve their fundraising goals, while they reduce administrative burden and operational cost. And while building a custom ask amount formula seems like it should align perfectly with this objective, the reality for many institutions is proving to be rather different – and quite negative.

Before highlighting some of the major problems and challenges, it is important to start by noting that the concept of custom ask amounts is sound, smart and the results are impressive – particularly when targeting Millennials. For example, Connecticut-based Salisbury School used custom ask amounts as part of a campaign targeting young alumni, which saw the participation rate double from 8% to 17%, and the amount of donors contributing $100 or more jump 43% -- including one especially generous donor who made a $10,000 gift!

Obviously, the takeaway here is not that custom (or personalized ask amounts) will always lead to 5-figure donations; though evidently it can happen! Rather, it is that custom ask amounts are more effective than open or pre-set level donation options (e.g. $50, $100, $250, $500, etc.); both of which typically have donors aiming lower rather than higher; or often, not donating at all.

However, as noted above, building a custom ask amount formula to achieve higher donation revenues is challenging, problematic, and in many cases, unsuccessful. This is primarily because it requires excessive development team resources and time to:

  • Create/build an accurate scoring formula
  • Collect the right information from various data sets
  • Integrate collected data
  • Review all donor files
  • Calculate scores
  • Ensure that the system is constantly reliable

And so, many Development Officers along with their counterparts in other nonprofit organizations are stuck in a dilemma. They need custom ask amounts in order to maximize revenues. Yet they are finding it far too costly and complex to build a custom ask amount formula. Fortunately, there is a simple and proven way out of this predicament: ExactAsk.

ExactAsk is a proprietary predictive analytics platform that is designed exclusively for the nonprofit sector. It enables Development Officers to quickly, accurately and easily identify the precise amount that a specific donor is both CAPABLE and WILLING to donate. This insight is gleaned and analyzed from multiple internal and external data sets including donor profile, past giving history, engagement, online behavior, Census data and more.

Furthermore, not only is ExactAsk’s resource, cost and time requirement minimal compared to building a custom ask amount formula, but it also enables Development Officers to more effectively and rapidly move smaller annual donors up the giving ladder – and cultivate them into major donors.

The bottom-line is that ExactAsk empowers Development Officers with what they need: a cost-effective, precise ask amount tool that is reliable and scientifically-backed, easy to implement, works across different campaign types and channels, is scalable for small or large campaigns, and that integrates with your CRM, email marketing platform and Facebook page.


Your First Step Toward Maximizing DONOR REVENUE

Merely matching your donors to a generic “profile” is no longer enough. Your organization deserves better accuracy driven by better technology.

Backed by science, ExactAsk’s sophisticated algorithms determine the most precise ask amount for your fundraising campaigns.

With a few clicks of your mouse, you can start influencing exactly how much your current donors give.