After the Ask--Three Things They Could Say
After the Ask: Three Things They Could Say -- and How You Should Respond
April 4, 2006
By Abny Santicola, editor, FundRaising Success Advisor
In the session "Major Gifts: I Asked ... Now What?" Monday at the 43rd AFP International Conference on Fundraising in Atlanta, Laura Fredricks, vice president for philanthropy at Pace University in New York, addressed the issue of what steps fundraisers should take after the ask, sharing techniques to ensure consistent communication with each solicited prospect.
The first step, Fredricks said, is laying out a three-part test to any response that you, as a fundraiser, might encounter. The three parts are:
1) What are the issues for the person being asked (why can't they decide now)?
2) What are your response options?
3) What are your next steps? Some combination of strategies: calls/meetings/mailings/e-mails from a variety of people, e.g., CEO, fundraiser, beneficiary or other donors.
Fredricks advised laying out in advance some potential responses or issues prospects might come back at you with, format responses to these issues, and lay out a reasonable next step, e.g., set the next date to meet, involve other decision makers, etc.
Below are some sample issues and the responses and next steps that fit well.
- Issue: "I can't decide right now."
"Important decisions take time."
"Have we given you enough information?"
"How can we help you while you are making this important decision?"
Next Steps: Next date? Send materials? Anyone else who should see this prospect? Invitation to any events?
- Issue: "I don't have the assets right now."
"We understand perfectly, but what is most important now is that we keep the conversation open about your gift."
"We are confident that we can work with you during this transition period so that you can achieve all your goals and philanthropic aspirations."
"We can suggest unique and creative ways to start your gift now without depleting your current assets."
Next Steps: Send gift funding ideas in one week; call and get back on their calendar.
- Issue: "I'm more comfortable giving a smaller amount."
"Thank you for giving your gift a great deal of thought. We have heard this from other donors, and let me share with you how they were able to support the campaign at significant levels."
"Let's talk about your timeline needs."
Next Steps: Emphasize a flexible pledge-payment timetable; explore matching gifts; suggest an initial gift with the door open later during the campaign to make additional gifts.
In closing, Fredricks advised attendees to remember that every ask and prospect is different, but if you're organized and plan your timing right, you can handle it all and net big gifts.
"Be sure to carve out enough time after the ask so that all your hard work before the ask doesn't fizzle away when you suddenly don't have the time to follow up," Fredricks added.
Laura Fredricks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the AFP Conference, visit http://conference.afpnet.org