Author Archives: David Mersky

How Do You Raise Money If You Are Not Providing COVID 19-Related Services?

Raise Money If You Are Not Providing COVID 19-Related Services

Are you asking yourself how you can raise funds at a time of pandemic, economic dislocation, and social unrest when your organization’s mission is not related to any of those issues?

Many of our clients have been raising this concern with us in the past few months. Recently, Michael Jaffe facilitated a program for the staff of a national communal organization that recently utilized our executive search services. 

The goal was to get everyone in the room to answer the question:

“How do nonprofits raise money if you are not providing COVID 19-related services?” 

A question so many organizations face. And Mersky, Jaffe & Associates wants to help you answer. (Click here if you would like to talk to one of us about how we can provide a one-hour brainstorming session for your organization.)

What did this nonprofit learn about raising money if you are not providing COVID 19-related services?

  • Whether or not to relate your organization to current issues depends on the donor. 
  • Fundraisers must be sensitive to their donors as well as transparent, passionate, and sincere when making the case and asking for a commitment. 
  • It is critical, now more than ever, to stay in touch with donors by all and any means of communication that the donor employs. Another national organization, has made 30,000 phone calls to its donors since late March. Organizations should reach out to every donor in their data base in a prioritized, systematic way to create a caring community. The purpose of the call can be to check in, say thank you, and ask questions to engage donors.
  • Stewardship is essential. Everyone, including staff, is dealing with the effects of COVID 19 and the social unrest, but it is critical that staff relate to donors.
  • Virtual solicitations work. Utilize Zoom to engage donors. It is the best option now. Giving is as emotional as it is financial. People are giving, so do not be reluctant to solicit donors now.
  • Many people are looking at their estate plans. Now is a good time to focus on planned giving efforts.
  • Look at donors who give through Donor Advised Funds. They still have money to give away since it has already been set aside for this exact purpose.

Your organization has an important message.  Now is not the time to pull back on fundraising.  If you want to hold a motivating, inspiring program for your staff and/or volunteer leadership, email me or click here to set an appointment to talk about what Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can do for you and your mission.

Does Your Organization Have an Emergency Leadership Transition Management Plan?

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.Dby David A. Mersky

Emergency leadership transition management has been on my mind ever since the tragic, untimely death last month of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l, may his memory be for a blessing, the 12th  president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  As soon as shiva—the seven days of mourning—had passed the leadership of the College-Institute named Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., its Chancellor Emeritus as the Interim President.  Dr. Ellenson had served the College-Institute as its 11th president from 2001 – 2013.  There is no one who knows the institution, its faculty, administration, leaders, donors, funders and students better than he.  He could bear the sad burden of enabling the College-Institute to carry on under extremely trying circumstances.

But, how many organizations, when confronted with any unexpected, unsettling change in leadership, can have such an elegant a solution and the ability to turn to a trusted, valued former leader?  What would happen to your organization if a key employee could no longer serve?

I believe that every organization should have an emergency transition plan in place.

An effective plan provides clarity on who will do what in the event of the God forbid.  The essential elements of such a plan are key to an orderly transition.  There are three things that must be in place to manage any succession plan, especially an unexpected one. And, by creating such a plan and having it ready to be executed, you may avoid additional anxiety in a time of great stress. In the case of the need to replace an organization’s leader, it is vital that:

  1. the board understands the job of the chief professional of the organization. The most basic component is a current written job description that clearly spells out the responsibilities of the position and the person who occupies it.
  2. the board and CEO/ED communicate regularly and transparently about mutual expectations. As a principal develops and asserts leadership, the organization simultaneously undergoes changes in institutional strategy, staff and environmental conditions. Good governance is the result of a constructive, interdependent partnership based upon a shared vision of their respective roles and responsibilities.
  3. there is a constructive process for self-assessment and evaluation of the CEO, the board, and its individual members. These annual processes should be well-defined, based upon mutually agreed upon expectations and clear, measurable objectives. And, while an annual, written review is at minimum what should be expected, a structured program of feedback at regular intervals is better still.

In sum, here is a checklist of key elements of a leadership transition plan to have in place long before it would be necessary:

  1. An up-to-date job description for the position
  2. Clear, written annual performance expectations
  3. Measurable benchmarks for the performance of the organization and each of its divisions
  4. Regular check-ins to determine that the organization is proceeding in the right direction and that the staff person has the appropriate qualities for the tasks at hand
  5. An emergency leadership transition management plan
  6. A process for hiring a new key employee
  7. Maintaining the unity of the leadership—professional and volunteer—and assuring focus on the future.

As in the case of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the sadness of the death of a beloved CEO is incomparable.  We reach out to all our friends and colleagues at the College-Institute with our heartfelt hope that time and memory will provide them with the healing and blessing they so richly merit.

For the rest of us, should we ever be confronted with an unexpected transition of leadership, our stress and anxiety will be alleviated and the future well-being of the enterprise and those who depend upon it will be assured through thoughtful succession planning now.

Food Justice and Sustainability – From KAM Isaiah Israel to Your Nonprofit

KAM Isaiah Israel Farming ImageEven as we anticipate the beginning of summer, I am thinking back to this past Sunday, May 20, 2018.  In the Jewish liturgical calendar, the day marked Shavuot, when in ancient times, Jews were gathered up to Jerusalem for the Festival of First Fruits.  In the Christian calendar, the day is known as Whitsunday—Pentecost—the day that marks when the church was first gathered.

These holy days, however, share much earlier roots, a pagan, agrarian festival marking the first harvest of the year. Our ancestors—and we who observe these festive rites—fifty days after Passover and Easter, are ever reminded of how dependent we are upon the land and its bounty.  Food was never to be taken for granted in the Biblical era. And, regrettably, for far too many in our own time and in our own country, food insecurity is a reality.

KAM Isaiah Israel

Recently, we have engaged with a client who is doing something about it.  A 170-year-old congregation, KAM Isaiah Israel, is a city-wide Reform Jewish community in the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood. The congregation was founded by the founders of Jewish life in Chicago.  It is known for its dedication to intellectual inquiry and the pursuit of social justice through action, knowledge, and advocacy.  We have been engaged with this historic community to re-envision its future and raise the funds to achieve it.

Food Justice and Sustainability

A hallmark of the congregation’s social justice program is its award-winning, nationally-recognized Food Justice and Sustainability Program begun in 2009.  Through these efforts, KAM Isaiah Israel members address basic human needs and rights—access to nourishing, wholesome food, clean air and water, healthy soil—through urban farming. They have transformed the synagogue’s lawns and others around the neighborhood into food producing micro-farms, growing fruits and vegetables while distributing the harvests to those in need.

The members of the congregation not only grow and distribute food. They also teach urban agriculture and sustainability skills and advocate for healthy, local food systems and responsible energy, land and water use. This group utilizes an annual mid-January MLK Food Justice and Sustainability Weekend, annual mid-summer Farm and Food Forest School, and new Elementary School Environmental Education Initiative to create awareness, make an impact and share their knowledge.

In addition to all the good that it does, the program is a magnificent engagement tool for the congregation and has attracted people of all ages to the synagogue.  Since 2009 more than 500 people have been involved with the program. They have educated, advocated, planned, organized, planted, tended, harvested, and delivered more 12 tons of fresh produce. The work is done by an extraordinary group of individuals—members and non, interfaith, younger and older. Consequently, the program enjoys a high retention rate and a steady, annual influx of new participants.

What can you do at your nonprofit?

Aspects of the KAM Isaiah Isreal’s program are within the ability of any community to do. While a farm may be beyond your reach, it’s not difficult to establish gleaning programs or plant trees.

With an emphasis on climate change, imagine if every congregation stopped flying in cut flowers for the bimah. Instead, they could decorate with crops they had grown or gleaned, and then donated the food to a meal program. That alone would have a big impact on energy consumption. But, this community demonstrates every day the power we all have to effect change and action.

As a result, at this season when we have just marked Shavuot—the time of the giving of the Torah—the core of our values—and Pentecost—when the church was first gathered, I think back to the shared, ancient agrarian roots of these great days.  I think about how we can address the issue of food insecurity in our own communities.  And most noteworthy, I see how we can bring people together in common cause for the good of all.

We are proud of our association with the people of KAM Isaiah Israel.  If you would like to learn more about this program and how you can start something similar in your community, contact me and I will connect you with the leaders of this great social justice engagement program.

What Motivates Donors to Give by David A. Mersky

I got an email from a client earlier today.  He wrote:

I saw an article in the Washington Post yesterday. It discusses that, with the new tax law, many people will lose the deductibility of charitable contributions because they will become subject to the standard deduction. For individuals 70.5 and older who are subject to “required minimum distributions” from their retirement accounts, the article describes that charitable deductions can still be taken by directing the brokerage firm to contribute directly to a charitable entity.

I wonder whether we could send a letter to our donors who are 70+ telling them about this strategy, perhaps linking to an article, or providing specific language they can direct to their accountants or investment advisors.

Let me know what you think.

Do tax refunds motivate a donor to give?Well, I think that it is an interesting strategy.  And, you might want to consider sending such a letter, or if you are of an age to take required minimum distributions from ERISA-qualified funds—i.e., retirement accounts like 401 (k), profit-sharing, defined contribution pension plans, IRA Rollovers, and the like—then you might want to think about this for yourself.

But what about all the rest of the population who do not have such a benefit.  How do they “claw back” the value of a charitable gift deduction if they no longer can itemize their deductions?

The media—and most especially the press which reports about the nonprofit world—has been filled with hand-wringing articles about how contributions will go way down because of the unintended consequence of the increase in the standard deduction.

This contrarian is not going to pile on and issue another doom and gloom set of warnings in light of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.  Instead let me share the data with you that describes the key factors driving donations.  We know that some people give to support the fundraising efforts of a family member, friend, or neighbor.  Others like to create a philanthropic image for themselves or their company.  Still others feel guilty saying no to someone expressing a need.  These reasons for giving often are understated and certainly under-reported in the research.

The 2016 US Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy conducted in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy looked at factors driving charitable giving among wealthy households.  This biennial study found that donors primary stated motivations for giving were much as they had always been.  They were as follows:

  • Believing in the mission of organizations (54%)
  • Believing that their gift can make a difference (44%)
  • Experiencing personal satisfaction, enjoyment, or fulfillment (39%)
  • Supporting the same causes annually (36%)
  • Giving back to the community (27%)
  • Adhering to religious beliefs (23%)

By the way, 18% of wealthy donors in the same study say they gave because of tax benefits which is a drop form 34% in the 2014 study.

Our firm’s prescription for our clients, particularly those who fear the impact of the new tax law, is to communicate effectively and genuinely with donors, express appreciation and let donors know what heroes they are.

In the weeks and months ahead, we are going to focus our efforts on helping clients consider what motivates donors to give and how to:

  • Acquire new, first time donors who believe in the cause
  • Tell their new donors that they really make a difference
  • Convey joy in the gift to the giver

If you want to be part of our new initiative, send me an email to set up a call.  In a 30 minute no obligation call, we can begin you down a path of growth in your donor community, upgraded gifts from your existing donors, enhanced retention of donors, and increased lifetime value of each one of your contributors.  Write directly to me by clicking here and we will help you focus your efforts on what motivates donors to give.

Getting Ready for the New Year

Getting Ready for the New YearOn the first day of the New Year, I found a few things that gave me pause for thought as I clear the decks and begin getting ready for the New Year.

    1. At the end of the year, most organizations judge their success by one question: Did we meet our budget goal?But growing future giving means investing in activities that may not generate revenue now, but will make a difference in the years to come. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself: What things do I want to make sure happen in 2018 as a result of my organization’s fundraising plan, assuming, of course, that you have a written, highly focused plan with clearly measurable objectives? Example Focus Areas:
      • Engage donors early and often to learn about what interests them.
      • Find one more Board member interested in becoming involved in fundraising.
      • Start a monthly giving program.
      • Improve our database practices so that our donor reports are consistently correct
    2. Congress has passed a new tax bill which the president has signed into law.The last year ended with a steady stream of advice from nonprofits, accountants, financial advisors, and the like to increase deductions and defer income. Now, I am not an accountant nor the son of an accountant, to paraphrase the prophet Amos (Amos 7:14). I am not here to give anyone tax advice. Anyway, it is too late as 2017 has passed.However, I think all my friends in nonprofit development shops ought to beware of the law of unintended consequences. As we watched results mount for 2017’s year-end giving because of the “bundling” of gifts or multi-year pledge payments, should we begin to think about what the impact of such riches now will mean for 2018 and beyond. Just sayin’.
    3. I am always thinking about leadership talent—acquisition, management, and transition. Are you or your organization confronting a potential transition in the coming year?Nonprofits require high-impact leaders who are audacious, visionary, bold, and results-oriented. This is the type of leadership we all need, and it’s the type of professional we will help you find or the volunteer whom we will help you develop.
      This past year, we added two outstanding leaders to our firm, Howard Charish and Kerry Olitzky, who are already making a difference.
      We understand that executive search is not just a recruitment activity, but an opportunity to define your organization and the change it will drive for years to come. Our executive search process is collaborative and focused. With your organization’s specific goals in mind, we work in partnership with you to find the best, most qualified executives to lead your mission. We serve both nonprofit executives and the organizations who need them to pave the way to the future. In this coming year, I want to focus on your leadership talent needs.

    Watch this space for a new series on managing transitions and finding the right person to make the change you envision.

  1. For now, all of us at Mersky, Jaffe & Associates wish you the very best for 2018, a year
    • without any unintended consequences
    • in which your focused plans are executed to a tee, and
    • your volunteer and professional leadership exceed your aspirations.

The Role of the Executive Director in Nonprofit Governance

Book that includes The Role of the Executive Director in Nonprofit GovernanceManaging relationships among lay leadership and staff.

Navigating the relationships between senior staff and lay leadership is critical to mission driven work and seamless operations.  We believe this so strongly that we even wrote a book about it.  You can get your own copy—either electronic or print—of How to Engage New Board Members: Strengthening Your Nonprofit Organization by clicking here.  It will provide you with tools to help clarify roles and move the needle to benefit the goals of your organization and those you serve.

Not sure you need this book?  Then let me ask you does this sound like YOUR organization’s board?

  • “They say they will do anything EXCEPT raise money (despite signing a give and get pledge).”
  • “They don’t know how to fundraise…but they want to tell US what we need to do to fundraise!”
  • “They do not follow through. They say they will do something and then they do not do it.”
  • “They say they want to move the organization forward but then do next to nothing outside of the one board meeting a month they attend.”
  • “Our board lacks the knowledge or interest to fundraise. And it wasn’t even anything that they were told about or encouraged to do when they joined the board.”

Imagine what it would look like, instead, to have a passionate board, eager to be your organization’s best fundraisers and ambassadors. Happy to fundraise — together. It’s time to understand the role of the executive director in nonprofit governance.

Is this what you want?

Whether you are an organization in the early stages of building your board, or you are mired in dysfunction, you are sure to develop a foolproof plan for building your board and enhancing your organization’s successful fundraising program.

And, once you have built a knowledgeable, dedicated board who understands what their role is and promises to do what they say they are going to do, then we can provide you with the skill development for each of them individually and the board collectively to become passionate, pervasively optimistic advocates, ambassadors and, above all, great fundraisers for your organization.

If that is what you want, buy the book, contact me for a personal thirty-minute, no obligation consultation about its implementation, and schedule a solicitor development workshop for you, your staff, and every member of your board.  We will provide you with a program that will revolutionize how you engage your donors and a set of tools to reinforce your board members skills and motivation that you can deploy every single month. Start to understand the role of the executive director in nonprofit governance today.

You can reach me by clicking here.  I promise to get back to you in 24 hours.

And, if you will be at the NATA conference in December, come see my session that will offer you ways to improve the relationships between your nonprofit’s leadership.

Good Fundraising Data Can Enable You to Have the Best Year Ever

Fundraising Data Planning

The turn of the calendar page to June is a sure harbinger of warmer days ahead, and, as summer approaches, a development officer’s mind often turns to planning.

Today, a clear understanding of your fundraising data is the foundation for sound development planning.  Are you and your colleagues and—most importantly—the board of your agency looking at the right information, measuring the right outcomes?

Analyzing and reporting fundraising metrics is great, if they are the right measures.  And, if you don’t have organized fundraising data to start with you are setting yourself up for disaster.  Here are three impediments that I have encountered that prevent good analysis and planning.

1. Your data is spread across many different databases so that you have no consistent method for aggregating data.

Your organization stores donation data in multiple, siloed databases.  Siloed is the key word here. What holds you back from becoming data-driven is that all your disparate systems cannot communicate with one another.

What if you want to perform a “recapture campaign,” a series of targeted appeals to recently lapsed donors to reactivate them?  If all your data lives together in one system, you can easily identify the lapsed donors you want to target. But if you keep your donor data in separate systems, say by department or gift type, you’ll have to spend valuable time aggregating all your spreadsheets, cleaning your data, and developing a new set of unique donor IDs. That’s time that could be spent elsewhere, and it introduces plenty of opportunities for error.

2. There is no clear champion for fundraising data management.

Having access to data is one thing, but having someone who is dedicated to mining that information for insights and benefit to the organization is another. Without one person taking ownership of data analysis, this essential work never gets done.

3. Fundraising Data is not valued

The third—and single most important—hurdle to data-driven fundraising success is a lack of “data respect” among professional and volunteer leadership. When leadership is so focused on the bottom line, they neglect or misunderstand the significance of data analysis.

Some board members view fundraising metrics, trend spotting, and data-driven fundraising as a distraction from traditional development activities. Thus, when a board meeting comes around, and a director of development attempts to share their good news regarding an increase in donor lifetime value or an uptick in donor reactivation and retention, they are chided rather than lauded.  The singular focus on how much money was contributed this year is important.  More important, however, is understanding the impact of the year’s development plan and programs on donor lifetime value as well as

  • acquisition of first time donors
  • increase or reduction of lapsed donors
  • retention of last year’s contributors
  • reactivation of former donors
  • increase or decrease in amount given by each donor and the list as a whole

The bottom-line culture of most nonprofits is not conducive to thinking strategically with data-driven decision making. Instead, bad numbers are swept “under the rug,” and the realities of critical fundraising data are ignored.

Are you ready to be more data driven?  Email me at David A. Mersky or call me at (800)361-8689 and I will help you analyze your development data at no cost to you or your organization.  Then, this summer you can create a donor engagement plan that will enable you to break all fundraising records for your organization.


Award Season for Philanthropy and Fundraising

With the announcement of the 2017 Tony Award nominations at the beginning of this week—and, aren’t all you Tolstoy fans excited about the 12 nominations for Natasha, Pierre, and the Comet of 1812—I began to think about these “seasons” which every industry seems to experience.

From the Golden Globes to the Oscars, it is Hollywood’s time.  In the late spring with the previously mentioned Tonys, it is Broadway’s turn.

In the nonprofit world, late spring brings fewer grand scale awards, yet still brings the sector together with the releases of major annual reports that encourage us all to rethink our current standing and future direction.  From the Fundraising Effectiveness Project report to the Annual Report of Giving USA, those in philanthropy and fundraising, focus on these data and how they affect the industry and our place in it.

We would like you to ask one question when you examine these new resources, “How do we move from data to action?”

For instance, the latest Individual Donor Benchmark Report was issued this week.  The data in this report was compiled from “small, and mighty” organizations with budgets under $2,000,000.  In the report, we learned that on average

  • organizations retain about 60% of their donors from year to year;
  • 4 of 10 board members are active in fundraising in any significant way;
  • 1 out of every 5 individual donor dollars is given online;
  • these organizations raise 34% of their revenue from individuals;
  • about ½ of individual revenue comes from donors giving less than $1,000; and
  • the best way to ensure fundraising success is to have a plan.

How can you turn this data into action?

Celebrate your philanthropy and fundraising strengths

Find areas where you are doing well—better than the average noted above—and build on those strengths. Be sure to share your successes with your colleagues and board!

Identify your challenges

This data is your opportunity to check-in on how you are faring against the average and where you might want to strengthen your fundraising program.

Find markers that motivate your team

If your staff and board are obsessed with increasing online donations, focus there, and use the averages in this report as a guide. We recommend picking one or two markers of success for your organization and work on those smaller goals.

Above all, create a strategic development plan

Focus your entire enterprise on the one or two goals you have chosen so that next year you will have even more to celebrate.  Call me at 1 (800) 361 8689 if you would like to learn how we can help you collect the data, measure your achievements, and guide you in a plan for even greater success.


Uncovering A Hidden Planned Gift

Prospect for a planned gift

by David A. Mersky

I recently participated in the solicitation of a rather peripherally involved 82-year-old donor of one of our clients.  We were going to ask for $100,000, when, before we could even begin, the donor said that he had already provided a $100,000 planned gift for the congregation in his estate plan.

My partner, a truly fearless, great volunteer, and I were delighted with this bit of news. Of course, we encouraged the donor to consider a current gift as well, but the experience reminded me that there are probably many others who have included this  seven hundred family suburban congregation in their estate planning.  I began to wonder, “How could we uncover more of these hidden gifts?”

They are not unique in this way.  There is good reason to believe that your organization may also have planned gifts that you do not know about.


Because, during the first half of the twenty-first century, we are experiencing the greatest transfer of wealth in our nation’s history.  Early estimates indicated that the transfer would be $41 trillion with as much as $12 trillion going to charity.  Today those numbers may be $136 trillion transfer with $25 trillion for charity.

A planned gift is not automatic

Dr. Russell James, a leading scholar of philanthropy and planned giving and chair of graduate studies in charitable planning at Texas Tech University, has said that if you think that the “generational transfer will automatically flood your organization with resources, it’s time to think again.  Without putting in the hard work of generating planned gifts, 90% of donor mortality will simply result in lost current giving.”

By uncovering hidden gifts that have already been thoughtfully planned for your organization and then stewarding those relationships, you begin the process of identifying prospects for current cultivation and allow the organization the opportunity to recognize future major gift intentions through an acknowledgements program.

In addition, you will learn why people care about your mission, vision, and values, what is their level of passion, do they have children, where you rank among their philanthropic priorities, do they want to give now, and how they would prefer to engage with you.  And, then with all this valuable data, you will be able to design a highly-individualized program that will lead to increased donor retention and new gifts of substantial value.

If you are interested in finding the hidden planned gifts to your organization that already exist as well as the prospects for ever increasing levels of major gifts, send me an email.



Nonprofit Solicitation: It’s Harder To Get The Appointment Than To Get The Gift

Nonprofit Solicitation strategy

A successful campaign requires that your solicitors understand the nuances of a nonprofit solicitation, also known as, “the ask.”

Among other things, a successful solicitor will:

  • look to develop a long-term relationship with the donor(s)
  • offer a strong case for giving
  • practice what they are going to say and how they are going to say it
  • understand how to overcome objections
  • establish follow-through mechanisms
  • believe that they will be successful

Mersky, Jaffe & Associates has taught many, many people how to achieve their financial goals.   But we are always happily surprised when someone asks the seemingly simple yet ultimately essential follow-up question.  It can come in many forms, but a classic version is – ‘so do I just pick up the phone and start calling these people?’

As long as you have a plan.  Successful solicitation is in large part, a matter of preparation – including how a solicitor can get the face-to-face meeting with the donor, in the first place. Some long term donors will make it very easy for you and will respond to your first call with potential meeting times.  But others will give you such a hard time that you will wonder if this donor is worth the effort.

Their resistance to the meeting will in no way correlate to their ability or willingness to become a major donor.

The following are some tips that will help you get the meeting:

  • Prepare a script and practice, practice, practice
  • State upfront that you would be happy to come to their home whenever it would be convenient for them (an office is a second but less ideal option)
  • Ask whether his/her spouse should be present.
  • Offer two specific times on two different days of the week, as in “Would you like to meet on Tuesday at 3:00 or would Thursday at 10:00 be better for you?”
  • If neither of those days work, offer another pair.   And, if that does not work then ask whether a morning, afternoon or evening time would be best
  • Ask whether a work day or weekend would be preferential and then offer up additional options
  • If a spouse will be present, ask when you should call back to check if the suggested times work (give options).

In general, be prepared to ask questions in which you offer a choice of answers – not just a yes or no.  Do not accept, “can I think about it and get back to you.”  You know how busy this person is and how hard it is to get back to someone.  Make the appointment-making as easy as possible by asking when you can get back to them.  If the person asks if this about giving money – always be honest.  But, remember that a good solicitor is not only going to ask about a donation.  “Sure, I would like to speak with you about your contribution to organization ABC, but not only your monetary contribution.  We want to talk to you about how you feel about the organization and what aspects of it interest you.  We want to hear your opinions about how we are doing and where we should be heading.”

It may not be a conscious thought, but few people want to give substantially to an organization without having their voice heard.  Letting someone know that you want to hear their thoughts may make him or her more receptive.

Above all, remember that you are representing an organization you value.  Determine how you would like to be treated and keep that in mind at all times.  And don’t forget your patience.  It is one of the successful solicitor’s strongest tools.

Want to read other of MJA’s essential articles? How about:
Top Ten Reasons Why Nonprofit Fundraising is Successful
Overcoming the Anxieties of Asking
The Habits of Highly Successful Fundraisers

Note: this post was originally published in 2006 and updated in 2017