The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.
“If you’re not asking them for money, someone else is.”
– Abigail Harmon
Recently, I have spoken to a few friends/colleagues who are frustrated by their inability to ask for a donation. There are plenty of reasons why this occurs:
- The board has decided that this is not the kind of organization that asks people for specific amounts (which is usually followed by, “this has always worked for us in the past”);
- There are potential donors but it is too soon to ask them for anything substantial;
- We’re not sure we have a strong enough relationship for the kind of money he/she has potential to donate;
- I’m not sure we have a strong enough case;
- We need to create a plan for this type of donor;
- We want to ask him/her for a major gift next year so we don’t want to ask him/her for a small gift this year; or
- fill in the blank __________.
If you have a new prospect who has only been involved in the organization for under a year and you truly are developing a plan of action, determining how to get the donor more involved and deepening your personal relationship, don’t listen to what follows – you are on the right track.
If you have known the person for more than a year, I want to challenge your excuses – I mean reasoning. What makes you think that this year will be the year that you have all of the necessary information and you will be ready to move forward with confidence? In other words, where are you going to find the time and resources to steward and cultivate this person? When are you going to spend the time or money on prospect research? What are you going to change in order to achieve your goals? It is time to ask for a donation.
Hire a consultant?
Mersky, Jaffe & Associates is often used as a motivating factor – the same reason Dale Carnegie made millions as a motivator (not that we are comparing ourselves to Dale Carnegie), but we are also called into initial meetings to ask the questions that you can no longer avoid.
- How long have you been running a deficit?
- Do you know how you are currently paying for the deficit?
- When will you run through your endowment?
- Which is more important to your organization, keeping a low-key culture where money is not discussed or ensuring the achievement of the mission and the fulfillment of the vision?
I say initial meetings because our successful clients know that they have a problem and they are truly looking for a solution. They are not looking for someone to come in to save the day with a quick fix. They are looking to learn how to change their culture, make development core to their enterprise and ensure their organization is on stable ground for years to come. They are looking to understand how to ask for a donation again and again.
Now, because this is my article, I will pose one more question for you to digest – why is a consultant considered expensive, but running through your endowment because of a fear to act is considered a reasonable solution?
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Consider Why You Shouldn’t Take It Personally When a Donor Says No by Clicking here
Note: this post was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2017