What to do when several in-house departments are fighting over who should ask a big donor for the next gift

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

What to do when several in-house departments are fighting over who should ask a big donor for the next giftFirst, a quick story:
I once heard a story about a University that was getting ready for a big campaign. Not surprisingly, several fundraisers at the University had one particular major philanthropist (who had given previously) on their target list for support of several different areas of the University.

“Uh oh!” they wondered. “Who gets to ask her to support the campaign? Who will get credit? Why should XYZ area of the University get to ask when our area needs the money more desperately?”

Fortunately, the senior leader of the effort had her head on straight. She recognized that the donor’s voice was absent from the internal conversations. So she very wisely called the donor and said something like, “I’m not calling to ask for a donation. Instead, I’d really appreciate your advice.”

After being given permission to continue the conversation, she was frank, open, honest and (especially) unassuming about another gift when she told the supporter what was going on with her staff (in the best light possible). Then she asked the donor how she would like to be treated so the University could make sure the giving experience met or exceeded her expectations.

The result? Clarity! And, a very big gift!
So what’s the lesson?: When in doubt, ask your donors!
Not sure about a specific fundraising strategy? Ask your donors.
Not sure about a specific program? Ask your donors.
Not sure about whether or not to go forward with an initiative? Ask your donors.
SEE ALSO: 8 ways to ask for a donation without actually asking

Don’t fight with your colleagues.
Don’t shake your fists in frustration.
Don’t stick your head in the ground because you are convinced your way forward is the best.

Ask your donors. They’re deeply invested in your organization’s success. They deserve an opportunity to be engaged and heard.

Ask them. Then, listen.


>> Nonprofit Nate: 29 questions for better philanthropic conversations
>> How to prep for your next big ask

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