Becoming a Power Asker: 4 Secrets to Successful Major Gift Fundraising

Today we have a guest post from one of the smartest major gift experts around: Amy Eisenstein.

She’s helped tons of people learn how to successfully ask for large gifts. Here’s Amy’s smart advice:

One of the best ways to raise more money for your organization this year, next year, and well beyond is to raise meaningful, in-person gifts from individual donors.

Of course, the only way to do this is by asking. So if you aren’t a “power asker” yet, it’s time you got started!

If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’re an Executive Director, professional fundraiser, or board member.

And if you’re not asking for gifts in-person, you’re leaving money on the table.

So, let’s not let another day go by without becoming a power asker and making a commitment to raising major gifts!

4 Strategies for Successful Major Gift Fundraising

1. You have little to lose.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “no risk, no reward.” While the expression rings true, most people are risk-averse.

Many fundraisers are often afraid of offending their donors, and therefore choose to err on the side of caution.

Sure – it is possible that you’ll offend one of your donors. But it’s much more likely that you’ll raise significantly more money by simply taking the plunge.

Remember – you have little to lose and the rewards (major gifts raised) far outweigh the risks.

2. Staying on track puts you ahead of the pack.

Most fundraisers are so overwhelmed and overworked. So inevitably, major gift fundraising falls to the bottom of a long to-do list. Hoping and praying that major gifts arrive on your doorstep is not going to work.

But it’s not as hard as it seems. The key to major gift fundraising is consistency.

Simply staying the course and steadily working to raise major gifts for a few hours every week will put you lightyears ahead of what most others are able to do.

This is a tortoise’s race… slow and steady always wins when it comes to raising major and planned gifts.

If you’re not sure how to spend your time each week, the Major Gifts Challenge will give you the structure you need. Give it a try – it costs nothing except your time.

3. Ask for what you need.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. And what you really need is not money!

A compelling case for support (reason to give) can be very persuasive for a donor.

Instead of simply asking for what you think the donor can give, or a small amount more than they gave last time, tell them what you really need:

  • to help find a cure for cancer
  • to provide after school activities for children
  • to help feed the hungry

Fulfilling your mission – THAT’S what you’re really after.

So after you’ve discussed what you need, then you can talk about how much that costs, and the various ways your donor can contribute.

4. Use blended gifts to raise more money.

Many donors want to help solve the same problems you do.

When they think about what they can do, they think in terms of their cashflow. In other words, how large of a check can they write – right now.

It’s your job to help them think beyond cashflow. Could they have an impact if they considered giving stock? What about life insurance, retirement funds, or real estate?

There are lots of ways donors can give without impacting their day-to-day lifestyle – you simply need to listen for clues and ask good questions.

Most donors don’t make truly major gifts from cash. They rely on other assets to accomplish their philanthropic goals.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is to go for it!

If you’re not raising the money you need to be successful, it’s time to follow these four strategies and become a power asker.

That doesn’t mean rushing through cultivation or solicitation.

The most powerful askers take the time necessary to get to know and engage their donor, listen to their needs and desires, and identify ways to meet both the organizational and individual goals through a major gift opportunity.

For more help, click here to discover how you can be a Power Asker and learn how to ask with confidence every time.