Steps to Making a Successful Ask
If the role of money is to transfer value and you have a donor who loves your organization and is comfortable with your relationship, then it's time to ask the donor the following question: What would it take for you to consider making a major gift to our organization?
This question could be the most important question you will ever ask. In some respects, it is like a classic business question, i.e., what do you want in return for what you will get?
Notice the context for the question: "What do you want in return for your gift?"
If you don't know the answer to this question, then you have no business asking the donor for money.
I can't tell you the hundreds of times I have talked to major-gifts officers (MGOs) who have no idea what the interest of the donor is and believe that one approach to all donors is effective — as if all donors are the same!
Most asks fail right at this point —a lack of knowledge about what the donor wants from the giving transaction.
So, your first order of business, with every donor, is to figure out a way to uncover this information. I suggest:
- Asking the donor, when you first connect, why she gives to your organization. Then ...
- Asking the donor, the next time you connect, why she gives to your organization. Then ...
- You keep asking the donor why she gives to your organization. You never fail to be curious and inquire about this. I know you know not to be a pest on this topic. But there is a way to keep probing.
My point is that there is an answer. One of the most frustrating things I hear from MGOs is, "They don't have a specific interest, Richard. They just love us. That is why they give."
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.