Asking Is Easy
It was music to my ears.
"I knew you were going to ask — I was just waiting," the campaign steering committee shared. The campaign committee was discussing the importance of cultivation before asking.
This obviously had been accomplished — those around the table had committed $4 million of the $7 million that had been raised to date.
In major-gift fundraising (however you define this for your organization and your donors and prospective donors), the asking is easy. Or should be.
You should be cultivating and engaging your donors so when the time comes, you have a good idea of what the ask should be for and even how it should be shared.
Great cultivation needs to be attuned to the donor's interests and needs.
It is extra special when the donor, instead of wondering when he or she is going to be asked, inquires "How can I help?"
There are lots of articles and books on asking. Each year, I make quite a few presentations on sharing the joy of giving (aka how to ask for a gift).
The reality is that if we are truly donor-focused and are building deep, genuine relationships, the ask really takes care of itself. It takes care of itself in terms of some people self-identifying and in terms of some people removing themselves from the process or from a timeline you had hoped for.
So other than a few basic rules like ask and then listen intently, the real work is done in the relationship building. As long as you know the time is right, share a vision of what can be accomplished and let the donor visualize being a part of a wonderful solution, you will have success.
Yes, we outline each major-gift ask. We provide background for all those participating in the visit to be sure they have an understanding of the history and dynamics. We do this to help ensure the best outcome. But the real factor is what has happened before that visit — that is what makes the difference — and what makes asking easy!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.