What’s the toughest lesson to learn when you are soliciting your campaign gifts? To know when to shut up.
Failure – or success – with your capital campaign ask
Just imagine: Here you are, ready to make a key campaign solicitation.
You’re getting ready to walk into your donor’s home, and you are all prepared.
You’ve got your materials, your script, your presentation all set.
And you are probably going to bomb out. Why?
Because your donor doesn’t want to listen to a formal scripted presentation.
She’s not interested in listening to you go on and on and on about how great your organization is and your exciting vision.
She probably doesn’t want to listen to your presentation of your campaign case for support either!
Your donor’s may not really be interested in anyone’s presentation. (WHAT?)
Your donor is expecting to be doing a lot of the talking
She’s expecting a conversation.
She’s a VIP. She’s used to people seeking her input, and hearing HER point of view.
If she is going to make a big investment…
- She wants to feel like she’s deeply connected and engaged with your nonprofit.
- She wants to be treated like your partner.
- She feels that her opinions are important.
If she’s making a big gift, she expects to have her say.
Your job is to hold yourself back.
One of your key roles is to ask questions and pull out her story. What does she really believe in?
How can you possibly ask for a gift if you don’t understand her timing, her motivations, and her values?
You want a two-way conversation. You want to hear about what’s important to her.
- Why is she interested in your cause?
- What does she think your organization should be focusing on?
- What does she think about this particular opportunity you are facing?
Do you want a long term, friendly relationship with your donor that extends beyond your capital campaign?
If so, your donor needs to like you. She’s not willing to become friendly with you unless she likes you.
The best way to be liked is to be a good listener.
Good listening is the lost art of fundraising!
Hardly anyone listens anymore. It is a gift to someone to listen to them. You honor your donor by sitting at her feet, listening.
This is how you form a long term, wonderful productive relationship.
You’re not trying to “sell” anything
Everybody thinks they are supposed to have a presentation that will pick someone up and knock ‘em over.
Especially board members who go with you to make a big ask.
They want all the talking points, all the materials, all the facts.
That’s not quite right!
Soliciting a gift from a major donor is not about arm-twisting.
You never, ever want to be pushy with your donor.
Have you ever felt trapped in a conversation with someone who was coming at you really strongly?
Did it make you want to back off? Did you start to put up walls?
Certainly you don’t want to make your donor feel that way about you!
If you are doing all the talking, you are probably boring your donors. (And being boring is the kiss of death for a fundraiser, right?
Listening is a fundamental major gift fundraising skill
And it’s such a difficult concept to master.
We all wanna talk. We default to “talking.” Especially your CEO, perhaps?
Take the easy and fun approach with your donors by becoming an expert in listening. You’ll raise MORE MONEY!