chocolate brownies

Asking a major donor for a gift without fear

Asking a major donor for a gift can be a nerve wracking experience.  In this post, I want to show you why you don’t need to be scared (and promise to whet your appetite along the way…)

I’m part of a book club.  It’s called the Totally Awesome Women’s Network book club and mostly we read personal development / non fiction stuff.

Last month’s tome was ‘Chillpreneur’ by Denise Duffield-Thomas, also author of ‘Lucky Bitch’ and ‘Get Rich Lucky Bitch’.


My judgy pants were on as I considered the titles of her literary contributions.

My darling other half, Owl to my Lark and honorary awesome woman refused flat out to read the book.

I checked out her website ( OBVS) and decided that her personal style was as tacky as her book titles and that I was categorically going to hate Chillpreneur.


Eating my words


This could very easily be a post about not judging a book by its cover.  In short, as soon as I delved into Denise’s fascinating and relevant (free!) online content and got stuck into the excellent ‘Chillpreneur’, I hastily ate my words.

Now who’s the bitch?

Consider this post a personal apology to Denise, who likely doesn’t give two hoots about what I think a) because she says so in her book and b) because she’s an insanely successful multi-millionaire living by the beach in sunny Australia.


Chocolate brownies, major gifts and not fudging (sorry..) the ask


Denise has made her fortune by tackling money mindset and blocks that (mostly) women have around wealth, money and abundance.

She told an incredible story in her book which resonated with me, specifically on the topic of major donors and why its so important to follow through with a planned solicitation (or ask).  I will paraphrase it here:


Imagine having friends to dinner and throughout the starter and main course you’re talking about the delicious chocolate brownies you’ve made for dessert.

After clearing away the plates from the main course, you head into the kitchen.

Everyone’s expecting you to return with the brownies.

Instead you either return empty handed or (worse), don’t return at all.


This is basically the equivalent of preparing a prospective major donor for the moment when you’re finally going to invite them to change the world via a big gift to your charity then chickening out of asking.

WHY would you do this???


  • when you’ve spent months, maybe years building a relationship with them
  • when they have come to your (metaphorical) house for dinner and they know EXACTLY what’s on the men
  • when they have expressed enthusiasm and excitement for the dessert you keep talking about






  • Giving is a joy, think about how wonderful you feel when you make a contribution to a cause YOU care about. It’s the same for everyone else, regardless of how much they are giving.
  • Whipping away the opportunity at the last minute is going to be incredibly frustrating.
  • There’s always someone else, waiting in the wings with alternative home baked goods


What if they reject your brownies?


What’s the worst that could happen if you follow through on your commitment and bring out the brownies / make the big ask?

They say no.

The reality is that:


  • Some people might be too full for brownies at that moment – perhaps your main course was extremely delicious and they want some time to digest it?
  • Maybe they’re on a temporary diet or a 30 day no-sugar challenge?
  • Perhaps they had a brownie earlier?


These are all reasons to offer a brownie at a later date.

And remember, if they just don’t like brownies, you’ll know never to offer them again, saving you time, effort and freeing up the opportunity to invite someone different for dinner next time.

In short.  Don’t fluff the ask.

And once again, Denise, I’m sorry I judged you.


major gifts made simpleMajor Gifts Made Simple is a self study, online course designed to take you through the first steps into major gifts fundraising.

We will hold your hand, give you a headstart (with a ton of templates and downloadable tools) and lead the way, from starter to dessert (metaphorical brownies included).

To find out more, visit this page.

Posted in Fundraising, Major gift fundraising.