Capital campaign fundraising always comes down to asking for big gifts.
You’ve been getting to know a group of high-dollar prospects, and you certainly hope they will come through with generous pledges to your campaign.
Here’s how to gently warm them up for a successful solicitation.
It’s essential to PREPARE your prospects first, so they are not shocked or surprised when you ask for a big gift.
We think you should always ask for permission to discuss a gift. It’s good manners, and it’s the right way to treat people. Beyond that, we have a 5 step conversational approach that’s sure to help.
5 Steps to Warm Them Up – but Take Your Time
Follow these five steps and you’ll find your major donors saying, “Yes, I’d love to support this!”
1. Gradually find out your donors’ hot buttons.
What is it about your project that they like most? What aspect are they most interested in? Follow your donor’s questions closely because they let you know what’s on their mind.
Do they ask about families or kids or education or single mothers?
Is it the impact on a certain population, or the overall community?
Is it the financial angle, or community outreach?
Listen and learn.
2. Find out who to come with you for the “official ask.”
You need to find out who they respect the most in your organization.
Is it the board chair, or your executive director? Is it a staffer or a program head? Is it your chaplain or your financial director?
Whoever this person is… they should come make the ask visit with you.
3. Ask your donor what their favorite part of the building or project is.
You can often tell this by their comments during a construction tour or when they examine the building plans.
Again, what do they ask questions about? When do they light up?
4. Mention what the underwriting amounts are for naming a room or program.
In a recent post, we discussed how naming opportunities inspire donors. Take them on a tour and say right out loud, “Someone could name this room for $xxxx.”
That’s a great way to put a firm dollar amount on the table. You are “testing” for the right number to ask them for.
Watch their body language. Even a flicker of an eyelid can tell you much about their level of interest.
5. Say, “Is this something you might like to discuss?”
Here is where you are asking for permission to ask them for the gift.
You are gently sliding up next to them, rather than approaching them head-on, and showing up too aggressively.
I have raised millions using this technique.
The donor never feels pushed or confronted. You never want the donor to feel that way, do you?
This is the way to gently lead your donors to a gift, and make them feel terrific in the process.
DON’T SAY THIS:
We’d like you to participate in the campaign.
That can feel awkward — and it may make the donor feel confronted.
Instead try a softer, more conversational approach: warm them up, watch for their interest, test an amount, and then ask if they might like to discuss it.
Using this “conversational approach,” we think you’ll be very successful!
Questions about any of the five steps? Leave your comment below.