The Only 6 Things You Need to Take/Leave When Making the Ask
Major-gift officers often ask Richard and me what they need to bring with them when they solicit a donor. Many of these MGOs have crazy ideas that they have to bring elaborate and expensive pieces with them to "make the sell." Videos, highly designed 20-page proposals, expensive gifts … we've seen it all.
Let me tell you. You don't need all that. I will give you a list of what you really need that will reiterate the points you made in your meeting and remind your prospect why your organization and specific project is worthy of his support.
The first thing to remember is any collateral material you bring with you cannot make the sell to the donor. I don't care if it's a 45-slide PowerPoint with emotional music playing in the background. If you are in a face-to-face meeting with a donor to discuss a gift you, should already be 90 percent there to a yes.
Meaning, all the work you have done prior to that meeting (stewarding his last gift, sending him "You made a difference" updates, cultivating him by letting him understand you know him) has all been done.
Secondly, the work you have done preparing the next ask for this donor (discussing her passion, presenting new options of projects and programs to invest in, getting a good idea on how much she would like to invest to match that to a specific project) has been done.
OK, I'm getting to that list, but you see my point, right? Collateral materials are not going to get you a gift. They should only be used as a guide during your discussion but mainly as a "leave behind" that reinforces what you have already covered in your meeting. If you rely on materials to sell your program or project, it's a weak presentation. It's about the quality of the project, the work you have done to prepare for the meeting and your presentation that show the donor you have listened.
Then, before you leave the meeting. You can hand her this:
- 9-inches-by-12-inches folder — matte finish, not fancy. Should reinforce your organization's brand with the name of the organization and logo.
- Cover letter — a one-page letter from the president, thanking her for considering the project, specifically name the MGO in the letter, personally signed.
- Case statement — two- to four-page document, either 11-inches-by-17-inches folded front and back or 8 ½-inch-by-11-inch paper clipped together, that reiterates the case for the project. The case statement includes (background, need, solution/impact, a specific paragraph directed personally to the donor of what you are asking, financials and photos if appropriate)
- Real photos — if you have actual photos, put a few in the folder. It's very powerful for the donor to actually put them in his hands. And make them big. Not tiny, little things you can't see.
- MGO business card — make it easy for the donor to get hold of you if he has questions. But, most likely you will follow up with him.
- The overall look should be clean, not fancy and overproduced, yet professional-looking and easy to read.
That's it. This is all you need. Remember, all this should do is reinforce what you have already said face to face. Many times donors will not give you a decision right away. They need time to think and talk it over with a spouse or partner.
The great thing about this leave-behind package is that it's versatile for different types of donor visits. Not every one-on-one donor visit is to make an ask. If it's a first meeting with a prospect, you can include a piece about the organization, your mission, vision and history. You could add a piece that highlights several projects that a donor may be interested in, or even a CD of a video or photos that tell powerful stories.
So, there it is. You don't have to spend a bunch of money … in fact you should not do that. You don't want to give that impression. But, if you leave behind the appropriate materials that specifically address the donor and her passion, it will leave a strong impression on the donor and reinforce why she has decided to support your cause.
Remember, a donor gives because he has been inspired by the work your organization does and the work you have done to match his passion with the mission. Everything else is the cherry.
If you like baseball, tennis, golf, Gregorian chant, jazz, rock, good wine and deep conversation, then you’ll like to hang out with Jeff.
If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.