Welcome to the fifth installment in a seven-part series on Capital Campaign Basics. Click here to start the series from the beginning.
- Capital Campaign Basics: 7 Steps to Success
- Step 1: Clarify Your Fundraising Goals
- Step 2: Write Clear, Effective Campaign Material
- Step 3: Develop a Gift Range Chart
- Step 4: Make a List of Prospects by Giving Level
- Step 5: Contact Your Best Prospects
- Step 6: Ask for Gifts in Person Using Gift Range Chart
- Step 7: Follow Up with Every Donor
Start Contacting Your Best Campaign Prospects
The campaign process until now has been relatively easy. You’ve sat at your computer and developed your plan. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know it’s been work. Wrestling all of the elements of your project into place and shaping the steps forward isn’t child’s play. But the players are you and you! Or perhaps you and the other people involved in your project.
Now it’s Time to Start Talking to Donors
Before I tell you how to do that, let me review some of the symptoms you’re likely to experience even thinking about what’s next. Your heart might race. Your mouth will get dry. You’ll think of every possible reason that people won’t want to give to your project. In fact, you’ll come up withe a long list of reasons why they shouldn’t give! After all, you are closer to this project than anyone and you know exactly what might go wrong.
So, let all of that roll over and through you. But don’t take it too seriously. It’s just the first part of the actual asking process. And most people have got to go through it before they can muster the courage to get out and ask.
Think of it as the voice of your very own Lizard Brain.
When Margaret, who inspired this series, reached this step, you should have heard all of her concerns. A long list. But finally, after a few days of stewing about everything negative she could imagine, she took her list of her “best” prospects and started getting in touch with them.
She started at the top, contacting the people who had both the resources and reason to give. And much to her astonishment — given her internal chatter about why no one should give — Margaret found that people said “YES.” In fact, they agreed to give almost before she asked. They wanted to support her. They loved her project and they felt honored to have been asked!
Once You’ve Started to ASK it Gets Easier
Of course, once Margaret started to have some success with her top donors, it was much easier to ask others. Then should could say, I’ve already raised $______ from ___ people. Would you consider joining those donors?
You, too, will find that once you’ve gotten started, you’ll gain confidence that will pull you along at least through your first set of most likely donors. And the more success you have with them, the more confidence you will feel and the more courage you will have.
And the more you ask, the more you will find the words and concepts that work. While there’s much written about Asking for Gift, in the end you will have to find the words that work best for you. Asking Matters provides a remarkable set of materials about how to ask. Inform yourself about best practices. It will help build your confidence.
So, overcome your natural resistance and just get going. As the money starts coming in, your Lizard Brain will become quieter. You may find that your asks result in the kind of heart-warming, encouraging conversations with your donors that remind you of why you got into the fundraising business in the first place.
Start Here: A Short To-Do List
1. Review Your List of Best Prospects
2. Select the Top Three
3. Write Scheduling e-mails
4. Tie Down Appointments
Once you’ve tied down the appointments the process actually gets easier because you’ll no longer have a choice.
P.S. What’s Happened to Margaret?
She’s asked her top tier donors and has had a wonderful response. She’s raised more then half her goal from 10 donors. Now she’s trying to get herself out the door again to ask the next tier. Though that doesn’t seem quite as hard for her because of her early success, she’s had to regroup and push herself past her resistance again.
Join me next week to learn more about asking for the gifts in Step 6 of our simple 7-Step campaign process.