Tip 1: Make Sure Your Asks Reflect the Donor’s Interests
Never ask someone for money just because they have money. Only ask people for money because you know a real reason they might want to give that your cause.
Through many years in this business, I’ve acquired friends who have lots of money. And occasionally, I’ve asked one or another of them to give to projects I’m involved with.
I don’t ask them because my projects need their money. But I ask them because I have good and specific reasons to believe that the project is something they’d be interested in supporting.
You’ll find that if you’re rigorous about only asking donors to give to something they might genuinely want to support, the process of asking will no longer feel icky. In fact, it’ll be engaging and rewarding and appropriate. They may or may not decide to give, but in either case, they’ll be pleased you gave them the opportunity to consider making a gift.
Tip 2: Ask for Gifts In the Context of Your Fundraising
Often our capital campaign coaching clients want to know how much to ask someone for. It’s a great question! And the answer may surprise you. Because how much you ask for has less to do with how much money your donor has than it does the context for your ask.
When you’re planning an ask, consider these three context questions:
Renewable or one-time gift?
Are you asking for an annual gift — a gift that someone will renew year after year? Or are you asking for a one-time gift to a special campaign?
Lump sum or pledge?
Are you asking someone for a gift they can pay in installments over several years or are you asking for a one-time payment?
Percent of your fundraising goal?
And, finally, what is the total amount you are raising and how does your ask fit into the overall fundraising goal?
Tip 3: Maintain Control of the Conversation
It’s oh so tempting to hand control of the decision over to your donors. But it’s always a mistake.
Don’t say these things:
Give me a call when you’ve made up your mind.
Just send in your pledge form.
Call me back.
Do say these things:
I’ll get back to you next week.
May I follow up with you on Monday?
Let’s get another meeting scheduled right now.
By giving over control to the donor, you set yourself up for failure. Even worse, you may have laid the groundwork for the relationship to sour.
If your donor doesn’t follow through or call you back, you’ll feel awkward nagging them and they’ll feel bad that they didn’t follow through.
The Bottom Line
Use these simple three techniques and I promise you, your success with your major gifts will increase. You’ll feel more confident and you’ll find it easier to ask!
- Ask your donors for something they will want to do.
- Ask for gifts in the context of your fundraising plan.
- Don’t give up control of the asking process.
Did we miss anything? If you’ve tried some other techniques that make major donor asks more successful, share them below in the comments.