Recently, David A. Mersky gave a webinar geared towards mid-level Development professionals. As David always likes to keep the webinars interactive, he asked the attendees, “What is your greatest anxiety around asking someone to make a gift to your agency?” and the responses were, of course, telling.
Of the five options, “I will not know what to say” was the most frequently mentioned—by 31% of the participants. It made me consider a few things, the first is that mid-level development professionals do not always have major gifts experience. Something I sometimes forget. Then, I wondered, are people trying to strategize for solicitations on their own? If you are correctly preparing for an “ask” you will be prepared for what to say, how to say it, how much to ask for and what you can offer in recognition.
Here are 7 reasons why making asks on your own will hurt your results.
- If there is only one person determining who should be asked, certain people will fall off of the “A” list of asks because they are hard to talk to, don’t get along with the one person or simply might be a difficult ask.
- One person is not the best person to ask every potential donor. Who has the best relationship? Who will the prospect take a call from? Who does the donor consider a peer? To whom could this person NOT say no?
- It is essential to know about all recent contact with a prospect? Has the ED spoken to him or her about volunteering at an event or asked for an in-kind donation? Have they recently been asked to join the board? Has the prospect recently sent an email with some thoughts on a program? An organization that does not share important information within its walls will seem like a risky investment for a prospective donor.
- Understanding what to ask for is not based on what people have given to a different organization but on a collection of information from various sources that culminate in a range with which the right person or team from your organization can ask with confidence.
- One person will only see one side of the donor. The more you know about the donor – the more you know how to make an ask. Does someone on the board go for a drinks with the prospective donor and have anecdotal information to share? Does a fellow staff member know their children? If you are not gathering as much information as possible, you are hurting your chances of success.
- Overcoming the anxieties of asking are easier when you can practice your prospect-specific strategy with a colleague.
- Having a partner in an “ask” can improve the conversation, the chances of success and better reporting on the meeting. We all know we can skew perspective with rose or dark colored lenses but two people can improve the clarity.
Asking for a donation, or making asks, on your own is not a sign of bravery or confidence. It can only be strategic if planned in a group.