1. Know thy donor: You should know more about the prospect than he or she will ever know about you. This immediately puts you in a stronger position!
2. Get an appointment: You should try to make an appointment at a place that is most comfortable for the ASKERS, as well as the prospect. It always isn’t possible, but try to meet at your agency (if it is active) and let it sell itself. Others like meeting in homes or restaurants, away from busy and distracting offices. Do the best you can to find a place convenient for your prospect and comfortable for the askers.
3. Chit chat: Spend five minutes or so in casual conversation with the prospect. The discussion should focus on one of the three reasons that people give money:
• Relationship with you or the agency (the prospect is a friend or is connected with the agency in some meaningful way)
• Mutual interest (your agency focuses on areas of personal interest to the prospect)
• Prospect’s needs (the prospect is interested in visibility or something special that you can provide)
4. Present your case: Soup to nuts. All ten minutes of it. Start with the focus on the problem your clients face, how many are affected by it, the solution you have in mind, the difference it will make for them, why you are unique to do it, the total cost of the program, and then…
5. Ask for a specific amount of money: Say the words “I would like you to consider a gift of $5,000 dollars (or whatever amount you are requesting).”
Immediately stop talking after asking for the amount.
Basic Fundraising 101 – the first one to talk after the ask LOSES!
We often run over our own words and give the prospect every opportunity to back out of the gift…”we’d like you to consider a gift of $5,000 and I’m sorry it’s so much money and you’ve been so busy and I know this is a shock, etc., etc.” Gone gift.
Stare with a smile. Think of old songs. Plan your shopping list. Write a new computer program in your mind. Do anything but talk.
It will seem like forever. Their eyes may get big. Color may drain from their faces. Discipline. Discipline. Giving the responsibility to the prospect to respond forces them to say SOMETHING (they almost never say just “no.”). It gives you a chance to listen to what they have to say and respond. Be ready. Be quick.
6. Respond: Here are various things you might say to the following prospect responses:
• “Oh, I can’t give that much right now.” Key words, “right now” – would they consider a pledge over a few years… don’t give up the gift easily. If they cannot do the pledge, then ask them what they would like to consider. Don’t go around more than twice. This is not an auction.
• “Let me have a pledge card and I’ll take it home and talk to my family about it.” No way! We don’t have pledge cards. That card will end up in the garbage with your direct mail letter. Of course many people have to discuss gifts with their families. Ask if you can meet with them on a specific day the following week or so.
• “I already give to the United Way or Brotherhood Crusade (or some other umbrella agency).” If you are a United Way or Brotherhood Crusade agency, this is a very common response. Thank them for their generosity and explain how this particular project is not funded by United Way or the Brotherhood and how their gift can make a difference. BRING THEM BACK to your clients.
• “I am very interested in whales and the environment and many other issues.” Empathize. That’s great! Very few people give to only one thing. Most prospects are very generous. BRING THEM BACK to your clients by explaining how their gift will make a tremendous difference!
• If they say “Yes,” restate what they have agreed to do. Guinness Book of Most Embarrassing Moments should include solicitors who have asked for and received pledges and had to call the prospect back because they forgot what he or she agreed to do…
Brainstorm more responses with the group. Talk about the answers. Have people share their experiences.
If donors say “no” -more than likely they will tell you why, which could include any number of things:
• lack of attachment to the agency
• bad timing
• prospect information was wrong
• interest isn’t very strong for the issue
Make a special note of their reason and make a plan to fix it if you can for the future!
7. Send a thank you note: Regardless of the outcome, send a personal thank you note within 24 hours of the meeting. A more formal note can be sent later from the agency. Don’t worry, few people wake up in the morning hoping that no one will thank them. You can’t thank prospects enough.
8. Follow up: Find ways to involve prospects and donors. Be sure they are on your mailing list. Invite them to agency events. Keep them informed and help them to create some ownership in your agency.
Information taken from How to Ask for Money without Fainting by Susan M. Scribner and The Grantmanship Center Magazine issue #29 “Getting Major Gifts” and “The Future of Relationship Fundraising”.
3 reasons that people give money:
1. Relationship with you or the agency (the prospect is a friend or is connected with the agency in some meaningful way)
2. Mutual interest (your agency focuses on areas of personal interest to the prospect)
3. Prospect’s needs (the prospect is interested in visibility or something special that you can provide)
Grassroots Fundraising has many excellent books about fundraising and publishes The Grassroots Fundraising Journal.
The Grantsmanship Centerin Los Angleles is an excellent resource for information and training on Management, Proposal Writing/Grantseeking, Foundation/Corporate Funding, Government Funding, Fundraising, Nonprofit Business Ventures, Internet Issues, Consulting, Nonprofit Law, and International Funding. They offer a free magazine subscription to staff members of nonprofit organizations and you may access articles from recent issues. www.tgci.com