When Do You Defer a Gift?
You have a donor offer you a gift before you are in a pending major campaign. What do you do?
The ideal result of ongoing cultivation and engagement is for a donor to say, "How can I help you?"
It is important that you have an answer where the donor can be a hero and make an impact. And this opportunity needs to be in the near future to keep his or her interest, create momentum and honor the offer. If there is no pending campaign then, of course, you should have a conversation on projects that are of interest to the donor.
However, if you are on the verge of a major campaign where you will have an overall goal, defined outcomes, naming opportunities, a campaign committee and ways that the donor can be a part of the major solution, we find it is most often best to ask the individual to give you a little time to get back with him or her.
You could ask as a follow-up:
- "What is it about this project that most interests you?"
- "What questions do you have about this project?"
- "What suggestions do you have about our plans?"
The follow-up can’t take forever. However, if you are about to embark on a study, for example, you could share:
- "We are about to conduct a research study and would really like to include you and other prospective major investors so that we can fine-tune our plans and have the right campaign path to ensure success.”
- "Could we finalize our plans and then get back to you in just a few months with some options for your involvement and how your early gift might help create momentum for the campaign?"
Experience shows that most donors stretch where they are involved. So, for example, if the gift request can be tied to a role on a campaign steering committee the gift can be much higher. The same with donors who may want to stretch for naming opportunities or who might benchmark their gift level tied to an overall campaign goal that may not yet have been established.
Knowing when and how to defer a gift offer takes discernment and strong leadership. But when done properly, it can increase the potential gift dramatically and create great momentum for your campaign.
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.