If you are considering how many solicitors you need, you probably don’t have enough. You are probably relying on the Executive Director, a development staff member or two, and/or a few key board members. And, maybe that has worked for the past few years – Executive Directors can be incredibly effective fundraisers. But you may be only one resignation away from a dramatic decline. It is time to increase your solicitor pool.
In the same way you don’t want to be over-reliant on a few major donors, you don’t want to put all of your solicitations in too few hands.
How do you expand your solicitor pool?
- Look at your staff. Who would you trust to represent you in a meeting? Not sure if Jennifer is ready? Bring her along as a second solicitor during a few meetings with longtime donors. Make it clear, ahead of time, the role she will play and where she can strategically add to the conversation. Please don’t have her sitting and observing the whole time – that will not test her skills, it make everyone feel uncomfortable, and leave the donor(s) wondering why Jennifer was there at all.
- Ask your board members if they will help. Ask them one-on-one, not in a group setting. Don’t assume they will say no. And encourage people to get involved at any level that will be helpful to you.
- Some people might be willing to solicit, if trained.
- Others might be willing to help you set up appointments (often time consuming for the solicitor) and join in if someone else will make the ask. Overtime, that might change, but for the moment you will have someone helping you with the initial, time-consuming piece of an ask.
- Another few might be willing to ask at a small group event. Encourage your board to get involved with fundraising any way they choose.
- Invite committee members to participate. Obviously, the first place to start is the development committee. But, someone who understands the finances might be willing to help with a fact driven ask. And a person who is focused on funding for a particular program might be willing to ask individuals to support it. *
- Talk to your donors. Longtime supporters might be willing to ask others to join them with their own gift – especially if they already know them. Those cocktail party conversations might provide more connections and donations than you expected.
*Only encourage funding for a program that is an organizational priority. Creating a program because you received funding is a slippery slope that often leaves you in debt. Get in touch if you want to learn more about how I learned this the hard way.