Before you can even get to ‘the ask’ you’ve got to start and maintain a conversation. Here are some pointers to do just that:
- Don’t show up and throw up. Yuck! Right? That’s when a fundraiser does most of the talking while the donor politely listens to them spew facts and figures. It might make the fundraiser feel like an authority, but it rarely results in a gift.
- Don’t tell people what you want…ask them what they want. Ask what they like about your nonprofit (and mission) as a way to remind them that they do. Ask why they care, ask how they first got involved, and so on. Then, ask them what they hope to get out of the conversation you’re having.
- Make sure they understand that you know and agree that their family comes first. Building trust is essential so acknowledge this early. Get it off the table. That’ll show them you are interested in them and their relationship with their family members as much as you are interested in their support.
- Show them what’s possible. But avoid using tons of facts, figures, and charts. Instead, show them pictures and tell them stories about real people benefitting. Transport them to where results occur.
- Give them confidence that your organization can get the job done on their behalf. Tell them about an individual program staffer. Chronicle her dedication and express your confidence in her as well as all the others. Again, shy away from big statistics like, “We have over 720 volunteers.” Focus on one person and their story.
- Show them you can be their facilitator and guide. Tell them stories about how others, like them, found meaning in their lives through giving— with your assistance. Explain that you are their conduit, their facilitator, their partner— not just a solicitor. You are there to help them achieve their goals and dreams.
- Give them a magic wand. Help them imagine what’s possible by asking, “If I could give you a magic wand and you could use it to create a giving opportunity that would really satisfy your wants, needs, and desires, what would you devise?”
- Provide them with offers that match their interests. Package-up the offers and put them on a ‘menu’. Then ask them what they think about each one asking, “Would any of these options be of interest to you? Could you share your thoughts and ideas about how we can improve them to make them more appealing to you and others like you?”
- See what they think about notoriety or perks. Perhaps mention something like this: “Some folks like the fact that their giving at that level also gets them backstage passes and meetings with the cast and crew. Is that something you’d find of value?”
Remember, the “ask” is much easier when the donor is comfortable and sees that their exchange of money will provide them with some type of value. Their gift is about what the transaction will do for them in return for helping you, your organization and its beneficiaries.
Focusing on starting and maintaining conversations might even result in gifts without uncomfortable hard asks. Try it and let me know what happens.
>>How to increase the likelihood that your major or legacy donor prospects will engage in a meaningful conversation with you by 700%
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