The Art of the “Implicit Ask”

By: Nathan Looney, Russ Reid Director of Digital Strategy

Creating valuable donor experiences on your website through the implicit ask

Non-profit organizations’ websites are tasked with achieving a variety of objectives.  From relaying information about your organization to offering assistance to those in need, and providing resources to your community, your website is an informational hub.  One of the most important roles the website can play for non-profits is as a donation solicitation engine.  Most all of us rely on our websites to assist us in raising funds.  And, as important of a task as it is, it simply isn’t practical to have every page on the site cluttered with donation buttons and donation “calls to action.”

So how do we make the most of our site’s content without “turning off” potential donors by flooding them with solicitation messaging?  One key way is to master the art of the “implicit ask.”

What is an “implicit ask”?

We are all well aware of explicit asks—these are direct calls to action that request a donation from a site visitor.  And these asks are critical to a website’s success as a fundraising tool.  Russ Reid recommends having these in the form of donation buttons on your navigation, as well as solicitation messaging and donation buttons on static homepage features for the very specific reasons that these areas on your website are key revenue generators.

But there is another way to ask for solicitations that are subtler—a way that implicitly asks for the donor’s support by talking about the good the organization achieves and how the donor (or potential donor) has been and will continue to be critical to that success. As our Digital Strategy team likes to say, “creating moments of valuable experience with your donors is a key requirement in the donor journey today. Organizations who continually and consistently create valuable donor experiences will engage more donors, more loyal donors, and thrive in donor participation and fundraising.”

Creating an implicit ask

It’s surprisingly simple to create an implicit ask, and they can be used in almost any type of content on your site.  The trick is simply to remember to do it when you are crafting your content.  These are the two elements that, if mixed well into your content, create an implicit ask:

  1. Acknowledgement of the impact your organization is having on the lives of those you serve;
  2. Recognition of the critical role the donor plays is providing that impact.

How an implicit ask can be used on your site

Story pages:  One of the best places to work implicit asks into your site’s content is on your various story pages.  Instead of simply relaying a third person account of a story, have the beneficiary communicate directly to the donor/potential donor through quotes that speak to how his/her life has changed, and offer an acknowledgement that it is the support of donors that made his/her transformation possible.

Staff and Board Pages:  Most non-profit sties have pages of this type and even this generic, very “functional” type of content can be enhanced by an implicit ask.  Instead of simply presenting staff bios, have the staff members communicate why they work with the organization, how the community is benefited by the organization, and how much they enjoy partnering with their supporters to bring about life-altering change. Personalization of content not only allows your staff members to express their commitment to your cause, but it also facilitates the implicit ask.

The importance of impact

Since relaying how your organization is impacting your community or your cause is such an important part of creating an implicit ask, it is critical that you make sure that your content goes well beyond simply describing your programs.  It must directly speak to the results that have been achieved, and, most importantly, the lives that have been changed.

Keeping the donor in the front of your mind as you work to create content for your site can help you present messaging that encourages donors to give without the necessity of a call to action button on every page and free area of your site, or in every paragraph of your site’s copy.


For more information on Russ Reid Digital services, to connect with our Digital experts, and to learn how Digital can drive your next decade of growth, contact Andrew Olsen (CFRE, Vice President at Russ Reid) or Steve Harrison (Senior Vice President at Russ Reid).