One of the most overlooked secrets to getting wealthy people to commit to a major gift is to simply get them talking about their wealth.
This is actually true with anything, not just money. Whatever a person is good at or enjoys, they like to talk about. And the more they talk about it, the more their brains start coming up with ways to use their talent, ability, or asset. If you can succeed at getting your organization’s wealthy supporters to talk about their wealth and assets, you increase the chances of them deciding to use some of it for a major gift.
One of the best strategies for doing this is to ask them questions about their money. Specifically, you want to ask questions about its past, present, and future.
The more specific you can get, the better. Don’t just ask about their “money.” That’s too broad. Ask about particular assets, or particular sources of wealth. Let’s dive into this a bit more.
A non-cash wealth asset could come in many forms. Here are some common ones:
Hopefully you see some commonalities among all these assets. Here’s the most important one:
Each of these has a story behind it.
Get the wealthy person to tell the story about one of their assets, and you are on your way to securing a big gift.
Because talking about something increases its importance in our minds. And it builds trust and affinity with the person we’re talking with about it.
If I’ve just completed a novel and I spend a couple hours talking about that novel with someone, I will be more interested in letting that person see my manuscript or perhaps a signed copy once it gets published. Their interest makes me want to continue the conversation about not just this novel, but other writing projects I might be working on.
Wealth assets work the same way.
A person who started their own business and grew it into something worth $20 million will want to talk about that with anyone who will listen. To them, this is the story of their life. They have wisdom to share, anecdotes to discuss, and all the little struggles, breakthroughs, victories, and defeats that come with running a business.
A person who inherits a large amount of wealth will want to talk about their relationship with the person they inherited it from.
Wealth assets aren’t just about the money. They’re about the stories behind the money. And the owners of those assets want to tell their stories. Do you want to listen?
Remember – the goal here isn’t just to talk about the money or the wealth asset. It’s to bend that conversation in a direction more likely to lead to a gift.
The secret to doing this well is to ask questions about the past, present, and future of the asset.
Questions about the Past of the Asset
Here are a few examples of how to get the conversation started:
These kinds of questions do more than just get the conversation going. They lead the wealthy person to start thinking about big emotions and feelings related to identity, purpose, influence, legacy, and significance.
Talking about the past of a wealth asset turns it into a story. It makes it seem like more than just money, which it is.
Questions about the Present of the Asset
You do want to hit these topics in order. After you’ve discussed the story behind the asset, transition to the present reality. What’s going on with this asset today? Here are some questions for this:
You can probably go through the present stage faster than the past, and you don’t need to linger here too long, because discussing the future of the asset is the most important part of this conversation.
Questions about the Future of the Asset
With the supporter now fully engaged with you and feeling connected, appreciated, respected, and valued because of the interest you have shown in the story behind their wealth asset, they’ll be excited to talk about its future.
This is the part of the conversation where you can steer it toward questions of giving. You have opened up their awareness of how their wealth connects with their identity. Now, you can present a challenge and the path to a meaningful victory.
But don’t get ahead of yourself. You’re still asking questions at this point. Get them talking about the future of their asset. Let them express and ponder their desires, thoughts, and considerations first.
Once the prospect begins talking about their wealth asset in this context, you can start tossing in other ways people like to use their wealth. And not all your suggestions need to be about philanthropy. Remember, you’re their guide. Their sage. You’re leading them where they want to go, even if they aren’t yet fully aware of it.
Eventually, you can start suggesting various giving options. And because you have laid the foundation by having an honest, sincere conversation about the past, present, and future of the asset you’re discussing, they’ll be receptive to your ideas and suggestions.
When you feel the timing is correct, and especially if the supporter indicates they want to discuss major gift possibilities, what do you do next? Here, you need a new set of questions, which a salesperson might call ‘closing questions.’
We wrote a different article about three types of questions – How questions, Reverse questions, and Follow-up questions. See the questions you can use to steer the conversation toward giving
In addition, especially when it comes to assets, sometimes what works great is to give the person more options for how their gift can become more personally meaningful to them.
One tool for this is restricted giving. One of the best things about offering restricted gifts is that it builds trust. Most people who are offered restricted options don’t end up selecting any of them, but they appreciate being given the choice. That’s from research.
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