No Vision, No Gift
I will never forget what happened to the major gifts officer (MGO) who went into the office of an owner at a very large company in California and asked for a gift. The donor said, “When you have something that has some vision and is in the million-dollar range, come back and see me. What you are proposing today does not interest me.”
I felt like saying: “I told you so.”
But the MGO did not listen.
We had had many meetings about this donor. I had pointed out that this man was the founder of a very successful and entrepreneurial company; that he was wired to make things happen; that he was a visionary; that he was not satisfied with tiny, insignificant projects; and that he wanted to make a difference.
The MGO had pointed out that the history of giving was $25,000 here and $50,000 there, and that that kind of giving did not justify a million-dollar ask.
I had countered that the information we had mined on the Internet showed this man was interested in making a mark, not only for society but also for himself.
And so the argument went. Back and forth. And I lost. And the MGO got on a plane to make his $200,000 ask.
I had dinner several weeks ago with a person whose net worth has to be in the $750-million range. As we talked, I was once again impressed with the truth that most very wealthy people really do care. They really want to make a difference. And they want to do something significant.
This gentleman was soft spoken and humble. He had achieved a lot. And the weight of his wealth and achievement seemed to have made him introspective and serious. His success had made a huge difference in his life. He was thankful, I could tell. And now he wanted to make a difference.
But here’s the thing. People like this, while they may be calm and peaceful and, in the case of this gentleman, very quiet and thoughtful—these kinds of people have a great deal of impatience for small thinking.
And this is the point I want you to go away with from this post—many donors need you to share a big vision with them!
Jeff and I see so many asks these days that lack vision, energy and inspiration. It’s no wonder that the donors are rejecting them. Why would a donor want to just do something mediocre?
Think about this.
When you do something for someone else or when you give a gift, don’t you want to know that you did something significant? Of course you do. So why would you put something in front of a donor that feels insignificant or seems like you are just asking the donor to throw some money down a black hole?
Many of these high-capacity, high-net-worth donors have been engaged in business and personal ventures where the stakes were high, the impact was significant and the outcomes they sought seemed unachievable.
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.