Today’s donors are sophisticated. Gone are the days when they just donate to…
… a cute picture of a child or dog was enough to raise millions
… because a donor gave an amount last year, they would automatically give at least the same amount this year
… appeal letters addressed to “Dear Friend” are seen as really coming from a friend
The list can go on. It takes a lot of effort to raise money in 2023. Or, if not effort, it takes strategy, thoughtfulness, and transparency.
Donors want to know what their investment in your organization does for the world. How their donation makes an impact. And why they should give to you… and why now.
They want infographics explaining the kids that have been helped. Images of the programs at work. And copy that makes the donor the hero. They want personalized asks and they want to know that you are paying attention to them as individuals. And recognize that they are not ATMs waiting for a withdrawal request to just donate.
They want to know that your organization is a good investment of their philanthropic dollars.
Are You a Good Investment for a Donation?
If your first thought is, “Of course we are,” then your second thought should be, “Why?”
Why should anyone give their money or “just donate” to your nonprofit?
Can you tell them how their last gift was used?
How many people were impacted?
Do you know where their next gift would go?
Are there new goals?
Do you need to raise the same amount of money to offer the same level of services?
If the donor increased or decreased their gift, how would it change their impact?
Were they the only donor at that level or are they part of a valuable cohort that you want to highlight?
Are there any benefits to donating to your nonprofit? Will their name be listed publicly, or will they get a sweatshirt?
The “Why?” is essential. Once you have that, you can go out and ask for gifts. With specific ask amounts to specific people with specific stewardship between asks.
In every nonprofit that we council for fundraising and development, we provide tips, techniques, and training on how to ask for money. Whether we are talking to staff, board or committee members, we know there is a lot of fear around the ask. We also know that each and every person can overcome that fear with a little solicitor training.
Here are seven solicitor training techniques to help you with your next solicitation:
It may seem easy, but don’t discount that your state of mind–whether positive or negative–will fill the room and affect the outcome of your solicitation.
Take a partner with you. Whether you are close with the prospect or just meeting for the first time, a two-person approach will set the scene that it is not just a social visit, but a meeting about the nonprofit to gather feedback from the prospect and solicit his or her support. It will create a set of expectations for everyone involved. Friends can catch up at another time when you don’t have a specific agenda.
Take a notepad with you. It won’t be rude if you take notes. Instead, it will show that you care about what they say and you want to be able to share their thoughts with the organization. Quick note: I used to take notes on my IPad at meetings but I found that people weren’t sure if I was taking notes or scanning Facebook. This is a place where pen and paper should rule.
It is the most valuable skill that you will use in your meeting. Don’t think for a minute that what you say will be more important than what the prospect says. Your job is to acknowledge their concerns and tailor the conversation to the prospect’s point of view. And you can do that, if you are really listening.
Know that you are as prepared as you can be. That means you know the donor’s:
Giving history (to your organization and other nonprofits)
Interests in your nonprofit (if they have given any indication in the past)
Connections and points of entry to the nonprofit
What you are going to ask them for
How you will handle the most common objections that you can expect to hear
What you will say and do if you don’t know how to address their concerns
When and how you will follow up with them
Remember that you are not asking for a personal favor and the donation is for a nonprofit in which both you and the prospect believe. You should not be afraid or embarrassed to ask. You will not personally benefit from the gift, which means, if the person says no, they are not saying no to you. They are saying no to this gift at this time to this organization. Of course, if the person says, “yes,” you should both celebrate helping the nonprofit.
Plan on thanking them with a personal note. The organization should have its own processes, but a handwritten note from you will go a long way towards building a stronger relationship between you and the prospect and the prospect and the organization.
Listen with full concentration. Ask with confidence. Know you did all you could do.
And if you are still concerned about asking, contact me to arrange for personalized solicitor training techniques that you can start to apply today.