Major and Planned Giving: Face to face wins the race
The hardest thing for most development officers to do is to GET OUT OF THE OFFICE and spend time face to face with donors discussing a major or planned gift. Sometimes the problem is based on a latent fear of being put “on the spot” and not knowing what to say.
One way to overcome the fear is simply to be enthusiastic. Take a cue from Vartan Gregorian, former CEO of the New York Public Library. According to Jerry Panas, author of “Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift,” Gregorian makes everyone feel as if they’re his best friend.
“He’ll hug you ... he hugs everyone. He uses your first name three times in one sentence,” Panas writes, explaining that when people enter Gregorian’s office, he gets up from his desk to greet them.
“He doesn’t walk. He bounds. Even from the first meeting, his enthusiasm is contagious. He is effervescent,” Panas writes.
That might not be your style. But the fact remains: Exceptional fundraisers do have a “fire in the belly.”
Self-confidence is another important ingredient. Panas also talks about Bruce Heilman, former chancellor of the University of Richmond and an introvert with great self-confidence. Believing he was the right person to do his job helped Heilman to be successful, Panas explains. By the way, when Heilman arrived, the university was near bankruptcy. In 15 years, endowment grew from $800,000 to $200 million. A $50 million campaign was completed two years ahead of schedule and immediately followed with a $55 million campaign, which was completed successfully ahead of schedule. And yet, Heilman hated speaking and public meetings.
“Self-confidence is about at the top of the list for me,” Panas quotes Heilman as saying. “If that fails me at any point, I know I’m not going to get the gift. I’ve lost. You have got to have the feeling you can do it. If you move forward with a claim to the space, people will make room for you. In fundraising, self-confidence is essential. You’ve got to know you’re a leader.”