I spend quite a lot of time in my coaching and training work helping staff and board members learn how to comfortably ask for the “big” gift.
The most important conversation we have BEFORE I share my checklist of 7 must do steps is to work through the fear or the push back people have about even talking about money.
I remind them that we are not really talking about money. We are actually talking about increasing the impact of the important work at their organization. We’ve made money the BIG thing we want more of, but in truth we simply want to serve more people or clean more water or pass more legislation that creates a better community.
It is our job as passionate supporters of any cause we are deeply connected to, to invite others to take action in some way. Our job then: Invite other people to help create the kind of community we all want to be a part of. Some people may have more financial resources than others, but your organization has something the donor does not: A proven system or program for tackling an important social issue.
So partnering together with your proven system or program and their financial resources begins to level the playing field when it’s time to make the big ask.
Once you have gotten the prospective donor ready to meet with you here are the 7 Must Do Steps to Getting the Major Gift:
Step 1 – Find out who knows them. Do this at a board or committee meeting, or a staff meeting. Identify who else besides YOU has a connection to the prospective donor.
Step 2 – List what you know about them already. What are they passionate about, why would they give to us? Where do they spend the winter? Where else have they given large gifts?
Step 3 – What can you invite them to, to get to know them better? And for them to get to know us better? I call these “business as usual” types of events. i.e. graduation ceremony, tech night for a performance, volunteer training. They spend only a few minutes observing the event and you or someone else on your team spends a few minutes talking with them about what inspired them or what else they know about your programs, before sending them on their way.
Step 4 – Make the call & set the meeting. This requires planning and thought. Who can they not say no to? According to Jerald Panas, fundraising guru, “85% of getting the gift is getting the meeting.”
Step 5 – The meeting is a discussion. At least 50% of the time is spent listening. Think of it as deepening the relationship and nudging the inevitable.
Step 6 – Close the meeting and determine next steps. I’ve seen way too many gifts go away because the staff or volunteer left without a next step. Make sure the ball is in YOUR court, no matter what.
Step 7 – Follow-up. This is the thank you note and call process. And it is critical to getting the gift and creating a long-term relationship. Make sure you are speedy in your follow-up. 24 hours is best.
If you get a “no, not right now or I’ll think about it”, then start back at Step 3 and work your way through the steps again. If you need a handy reminder download this PDF from my Free Resources section.
Remember: Your goal is to get THEM ready to say yes. Not to make sure you are not nervous.
Let me know how your next ask goes! Good luck.