Who to Bring to Your Donor Meeting
One of the things donors often wonder is whether the “ask” they just heard or received from the major gift officer (MGO) is really true. Don’t get me wrong—they don’t think the MGO is lying. They’re just not sure that the promise of what will be done with the money is totally factual.
You might be reading this and saying: “Come on, Richard. That’s just not true. Our donors really trust us. And they believe every word we say!”
Hmm ... dream on.
This could be true for some of your older donors—donors 70 years of age and older, folks who have always just trusted you no matter what.
It is definitely not true of the younger donors.
First of all, these younger donors (65 years old and younger) want more engagement—they want to get their hands into the program or the discussion and process, so just talking doesn’t do it for them.
But in addition to this, the fact is that these younger donors are just not as trusting. They want to know exactly what the story is about an ask—the whole story.
Jeff and I have discerned that the larger the ask, the more the donor needs to hear some of the details about the program from someone higher up in the organization. You could put it this way: The larger the ask, the greater the need for high-level-executive involvement.
This reality leads us right to the topic of who is in the meeting with your donor when you do that ask.
Often an MGO is expected to do the job on his or her own. This kind of thinking on the part of management is shortsighted and foolish.
In the commercial world, when a large chunk of business is pitched, the top people show up. Why would it be any different in the nonprofit world?
I’ll tell you why—in the nonprofit world, many CEOs and top executives look at fundraising as a job that is either beneath them or that should not involve them at all. This always amazes me. Any leader who believes resource acquisition is somehow outside of his or her job responsibilities has a damaged view of what he or she was hired to do.
Put simply, a leader’s job is to deliver program to a specific client group or environmental sector. Delivering program has two parts to it:
- Securing the resources to pay for the program delivery
- Delivering the program in a cost-effective manner
You cannot have the program without the money to do it, so where these leaders come up with the idea that they can somehow be separate from this critical activity is so strange. But enough of that ...
Here’s the point I am making:
When you are doing a large ask, involve others from program and executive leadership to help you do it. Program people always add credibility to your story with the donor since they know all the technical details. And having an executive or the CEO present lends authority, as well as credibility, to what you are saying to the donor.
I’ve even seen where a marketing-oriented chief financial officer adds a lot of value to the ask, as does the head of human resources when the ask deals with capacity building and adding more staff.
When you include these leaders in your process with the donor, the donor feels included in the inner circle of decision-making. The donor gets to see, feel and touch the reality of the humans who are making something happen with his or her money—and that gives the donor confidence.
So when you plan your next donor meeting, think about who you can add to it to achieve a greater amount of information sharing and confidence-building.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.