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Digital must-haves for fundraising: Dynamic ask strings

October 01, 2021
This woman is responding to dynamic ask string by making an online donation.

It’s never too early to start planning for your nonprofit organization’s GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising efforts. Part of that planning should include assessing and optimizing your nonprofit’s communication toolkit. 

Donors appreciate when nonprofits reach out to them with personalized messages that reflect their past engagement with the organization. You can tailor your communication to each donor to encourage them to continue their donor journeys by leveraging dynamic ask strings. 

In this guide, we’ll explore what dynamic ask strings are and how they can work for your nonprofit. 

What is a dynamic ask string?

An ask string—sometimes called a gift string, gift array, or ask array—is a list of suggested gift amounts that appear on a nonprofit’s fundraising ask. A dynamic ask string is an ask string that calculates the right suggested gift amounts based on the donor’s giving history. The dynamic asks factors in values like their highest previous contribution (HPC), most recent contribution (MRC), average contribution, or any other relevant values stored in their donor profile.

A dynamic ask string stands in contrast with a static ask string. A static ask string prompts all donors to give the same amount of money, regardless of their donation history. For example, if every donor receives the same static ask string with options to give $10, $20, or $50, a donor whose HPC was $200 could receive the same asks as a donor whose HPC was $30. Donors often default to using suggested giving amounts, meaning that in this example, the $200 HPC donor may just give $50 for their next gift.

This is where dynamic ask strings come in. The extra information that goes into calculating a dynamic ask string helps nonprofits efficiently customize the ask to each donor, every time.

What goes into an effective dynamic ask string?

Although they’re an incredibly useful tool for fundraisers, dynamic ask strings are only as effective as the data, formulas, and strategy fueling them. Here are some other factors to keep in mind:

Dynamic ask strings across channels

As you put together your year-end fundraising strategy, it’s worth re-examining how and where your nonprofit uses dynamic ask strings. For example, dynamic ask strings are commonly found in direct mail, but you can incorporate them into your fundraising emails as well. 

After strategically developing these dynamic ask strings, make sure to offer them to your donors via their preferred communication channels. This gives them the opportunity to respond and support your work.

Accurate donor data

To build effective dynamic ask strings, ensure you have access to a full and accurate picture of your donor data within the tool you’re using to build your emails and digital forms. Using a unified or highly integrated CRM will make this process much easier.


Although switching from a static ask string to a dynamic one is a great first step, you should also continue fine-tuning your asks. Give your team time to test out different formulas, custom contribution amounts, or even the ideal number of asks that make up your dynamic string. This will allow you to see what resonates best with your donors.

Use predictive analytics

Simply setting a formula or custom amounts to drive dynamic ask strings can already help nonprofits raise more, and organizations can take the power of this tool a step further by using predictive analytics to produce their dynamic ask string.

Using predictive analytics to create dynamic ask strings enables nonprofits to send each supporter custom donation amounts based on their unique giving history. This is yet another way that the right tools can help nonprofits spend less time on manual calculations and technical work, and more time on fundraising tasks that require creativity and a human touch.

Key takeaway: Start fundraising with dynamic ask strings

One thing is clear: nonprofits shouldn’t send the same static fundraising ask to each and every donor. Use your donor data to inform the asks you’re sending them. Examine your current practices and adapt your strategy based on your team’s goals, prior performance, and overall trends in nonprofit fundraising so you can raise more for your mission without doing more work.

Optimized ask is an add-on with the purchase of Digital. 

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