Which Donation Ask is Best – Soft or Hard?

Should your Catholic apostolate ask directly or indirectly?

When it comes to asking for $, where is the sweet spot?

Some people like to use the “soft ask” – meaning you ask indirectly. For example, the donate button on your website or at the bottom of an email. It could also be a sentence somewhere in a mailer.

Other people like to use the “hard ask” – meaning you ask point-blank.

A common fear is that you will turn people off if you use the “hard ask.”

At the same time, if you use the “soft ask,” potential donors may not SEE your request… and you will lose donations.

So what’s the solution?

I learned early in my fundraising career that knowing which ask to use is essential. There’s a subtle difference between the two asks that every Catholic apostolate should understand. Let me explain:

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Other articles you might be interested in:

“Who Really Cares” – Who donates and how to ask them to give

3 Common Questions about Fundraising Answered

Fundraising Tips from Saint Augustine of Hippo

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Greetings, my fellow Catholic. Today, we are going to dive into the topic of which type of ask is better: a soft ask or a hard ask (otherwise known as a direct ask). That’s what we’re going to dive into. Which ask is better: the direct (hard) or soft? So stick with me until the very end because I’ve got some great advice that is going to help you really improve your fundraising. 

Let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Brice Sokolowski, and I’m the founder of CatholicFundraiser.net, the website absolutely and completely dedicated to helping Catholics like you with your fundraising.  Whether you’re starting out or you’re looking for new ideas to energize your existing fundraising success, I think you are going to find some great advice on my website, and also in the next few minutes about the topic that we have today. 

Before we dive in. I just want to make sure that you download, absolutely for free, My 10 Commandments to Catholic Fundraising. This is a guide — I’ve got it right here — that you can print it out and outlines 10 lessons that I have found to be very, very helpful with my fundraising. I have listed out, the hundreds of things that you can do, the advice that everybody has on what to do and how to fundraise, and  I’ve broken them down into 10 manageable ideas that I think will really, really help you. My guide has been downloaded over 10,000 times and has gotten great reviews. I’ve had nuns respond and give me some advice! So absolutely, it is now yours, for free, The 10 Commandments to Catholic Fundraising. The link is right below. 

Okay, let’s dive into today’s topic… I’m going to be looking at my notes (which you’re going to have access to if you jump over to my website). The link is below so you can print it all out and keep it handy. 

Hard ask or soft ask? Which is better? I’m always being asked, which one do you use? Well, my advice is, if you’re fundraising, you have got to learn how to do a hard (direct) ask. It is always better for raising funds. That’s also going to explain two reasons why you should do a hard ask and… probably why you’re not doing a hard ask. 

Let’s dive into the reasons. 

First of all, why is the direct ask best? Number one, because your message is in front of people. It’s directly telling people, I would like your support. When you do a soft ask, you are more likely sending an email, or sending something that also includes different types of requests. So, (more than likely), you are not really being direct about your ask. Obviously, that’s the soft, or indirect ask. But you’re adding a few other asks as well, and because you’re doing that, more than likely people are going to take different avenues of response. Let’s say 100 people get your letter or email, and you have all these different things that you want people to do: volunteer, share, sign up, read all this. Well, some people going to do this, and some people are going to do that. Some people are going to (possibly) donate but you spread the benefit very thinly when you use too many different types of requests. In the end, more than likely, the amount that you’re going to raise is not as much as you probably anticipated. Because you’re asking people to do so many different things. That’s the first reason.

Number two is when you are making a soft, direct ask, the ask more likely than not is not getting people’s attention all that well. People get distracted easily. Their attention span is shorter. And you have important points to make because of that when you do have their attention you really have to make your ask short, sweet, and direct. Think about it. The average email is read in probably 5-10 seconds. So if you’re sending them an email that’s the amount of time that you have to make the request. If you’re sending a letter, consider that they’re opening it but they’re going to be skimming the top and the bottom, so you still don’t have a lot of time. The direct ask is much more efficient because you need to make the most of the shorter time span you have to actually make your request. 

Now let’s dive into the question of, is a direct ask easier for you to complete? More than likely. Of course, just like everybody, we’re scared to ask. It’s more challenging than a soft ask. So you’re naturally going to lean towards the soft ask and there’s nothing wrong with a soft ask. I’m not saying, don’t do soft asks. You can do as many soft asks as you want. However, if you have a specific amount that you want to raise, and you’ve got a deadline and a goal, the hard ask is my recommendation. 

If you’re happy to build awareness about your campaign, receive whatever comes in, and just be content with what happens, happens, definitely do the soft ask. If you do have a fundraising goal that you need to hit, you’re better off doing a hard ask. 

I hope that you found this information helpful, and please share with any apostolates that you think would benefit from the advice. Or reach out to me, if you have any questions about what I said. Make sure to visit CatholicFundraiser.net, where you will find tons of resources, absolutely free, to help you with your fundraising. God bless and speak to you soon. Bye!

Want to fundraise more for your Catholic apostolate?

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandments of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Click here to subscribe

Brice was born and raised Catholic. After enjoying a successful career in technology consulting with Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers in cities across the United States (Dallas, San Francisco, Paris, Abu Dhabi, and London) around the world, he left it to help his Catholic diocese in London, England with a fundraising campaign. The campaign went on to raise over $60 million, the largest sum ever raised for the diocese and in the United Kingdom.

Learning from professional fundraisers, he figured out the basics and then left the diocese to focus on what he loves most: building Catholic charities that change the culture, save lives, and save souls.

Brice currently lives in Texas and travels the world helping Catholics fundraise. This website is where he shares what he is doing and how he is raising funds for Catholic causes and missions. That way you can move more quickly with your next appeal.