Do You Ask on the First Date?
Hi, Marc …
As the CEO of my nonprofit, I don’t like asking donors for a gift the first time I meet with them. I want to show them I respect them and am more interested in them than in their gift. But I’m finding it hard for my team to get me a second appointment. So the team is encouraging me to ask for a gift in the first meeting. For years, I’ve prided myself on not “asking on the first date.” I don’t want to come across as “pushy.” But our organization needs the revenue from donors. And having my team try to chase down prospects for a second meeting seems like a waste of resources. What do you suggest?
— Concerned CEO
Dear Concerned CEO,
Great question! Asking “on the first date” can feel awkward. We hear so much about needing to be “donor-centered” that coming right out and making an ask does feel pushy. Especially when you’re a new CEO. Here are two different ways to answer your question:
Is it the prospect’s first date?
In my experience, not “asking on the first date” is really more about the CEO or solicitor than about the donor. It’s usually a mask to hide his or her own fear of asking. If you were truly putting the donor in the center, you’d see your “first” meeting in a whole new perspective.
For the donor, this may indeed be the first meeting with you as CEO. But it might not be his or her first “date” with your nonprofit. For a prospect to merit your time, your team has probably been working with the prospect or donor for a while. And it’s likely that the donor has given gifts over time.
So in reality, these “new” prospects or donors feel they already have a relationship with your nonprofit. You are a new face, but they see your meeting as one more meeting with the organization.