Major Gifts: The Art, the Heart, the Ask and the Attitude
The game plan
Fundraising professionals fall into many categories. Some love to manage and administer funds, promote impersonal fundraising practices, and do everything to avoid personal solicitations. Many development professionals totally enjoy the cultivation, stimulation and education of personal solicitations, but find it hard to close gifts due to a lack of knowledge in soliciting techniques. The ultimate development professional loves the challenge of resource acquisition and can integrate education in the process of closing gifts. If that individual exists in your organization, use him or her to make major-gift/planned-gift solicitation calls.
For this type of gift presentation to succeed, one must think of the ramifications of this activity over a spectrum of time. In short, the excitement of the process is satisfying because you are doing this endeavor for the mission of your institution. Closing the solicitation activity with a gift commitment becomes a happy drug and is an indescribable feeling that involves a number of people in your organization.
According to The American Heritage College Dictionary, the word “ask” can mean a number of things, including to make a request of, such as asking someone for a contribution. One must understand that the No. 1 reason someone does not give is that they are not asked. But asking in and of itself does not equal success. One must have a positive relationship with the potential donor; be an educator, communicator and facilitator; plus be the “right” person to ask. The individual doing the asking must also understand that the proper ask follows a logical, step-by-step function.
What is most important as a first step to an ask? Getting the appointment in the first place. You need to telephone to set up a meeting, send a note confirming the appointment and then confirm the visit within 24 hours of the appointment. And when you call, you need to be specific as to the reason for the appointment and seek the time for the appointment that is best for the prospective donor.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.