Before You Ask, Do Your Homework
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When considering a major-gifts ask, the concept of donor relationship management boils down to a highly personal study of potential donors' interests, behaviors, circumstance and capacity for giving. According to consultant Norman Olshansky, this information-gathering exercise is perhaps the most important step in preparing to make the ask. Among the information you need to uncover, Olshansky stresses:
- What are her/his interests?
- What have they contributed to previously?
- What is the largest gift they have ever given?
- Do they give individually or through their company or family foundation?
- Do they have a philanthropic fund with a local foundation? If so, how large is their fund?
- Are they candidates for estate planning and/or deferred gift discussions?
- Who are their key financial advisors?
- Have they recently sold a business or inherited significant resources?
- How is their business doing?
- Do they have a loved one who may be appropriate for memorializing or honoring with a gift?
- Are there other people who can be supportive with the solicitation who have special relationships with the prospect?
- What are the likely concerns the prospects might raise in the solicitation?
- Determine in advance what would be the best setting to conduct the initial meeting.
- Would it be helpful to have staff, or others participate in the solicitation?
- What materials, hand-outs or visuals would be helpful to have for the solicitation?
- Finally, establish a "rating" for the individual. How much should you ask them to consider as a gift?
Norman Olshansky is the president of NFP Consulting Resources, a Sarasota, Fla.-based consultancy.