The big ask and the big answer

I was videotaping one of my first clients yesterday talking about her first visit with a couple who had given steadily increasing gifts every year, as much as $5,000.  After a lovely conversation, mostly about their family, the husband was driving her back to her hotel.  He mentioned that in at his first job, he was required to buy Berkshire Hathaway A stock, and he got a big stack of them.  Before she got out of the car, she said, “I am going to ask you for a gift, and it’s going to be a large amount.”  His response: “you can ask me for anything you want, and how we respond, we’ll see.”  She sent a thank you note when she got back home, with a $100,00 ask.  They said yes.  And they have been giving gifts in that range for the past 8 years, totaling $1.4 million.  The big ask paid off.

The thing that jumped out at me was his response to her pre-solicitation.  “You can ask me for whatever you want.”  Isn’t that liberating?  When we ask for a gift, we don’t have to know how a donor will answer.  There are dozens of factors, and we can’t even imagine many of them.  All we can do is produce the best ask we can.  After that, “we’ll see.”