Often, I find that major gift (and legacy gift) fundraising education, training, and advice places too much emphasis on ‘the ask’.
Yet, in many ways, the ask is the smallest part of most fundraiser’s jobs. For instance, I bet most of your time is probably spent doing so much besides asking. And, frankly, I think most of the decision has already been made by your donors well before you pop the question. So shouldn’t most education, training and advice focus on the rest of the process instead?
Think of it this way.
When you first met your significant other, were you thinking mostly about how you’d ask them to get married? Of course not. Real relationships don’t work that way.
Instead, you probably focused heavily on building a relationship. I bet you first focused on inviting them to engage with you so both of you could determine if there was a fit. Then, as the relationship grew and both of you realized you had things in common (and could exchange value with one another in ways that benefited both of you), you began to feel good and satisfied. Then, only later did you decide to think about how you were going to pop the question, right?
Wouldn’t you have felt silly focusing on how you were going to pop the question all the while?
Of course, that was because you knew that the real hard work had to happen before that point. Then, popping the question became the next natural stage in the organic nature of the relationship. Right?
Fundraising works the same way.
Therefore, I think most of your time (and training) should be focused on the relationship-building parts of the process. It should focus on exploration and discovery, questions and answers… not asking. But how much time have you invested in testing which questions to ask, why, how and when?
If you’ve spent more time training on the ask, I think you might want to reconsider.
What do you think?
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