Asking for a gift is the moment of truth in fundraising.
Here is a simple, painless strategy that can take tons of pressure off the situation, pave the way for a positive response, and make it easier for everybody involved.
And it’s such a very simple strategy:
The easier way: send a letter outlining WHY you want to come visit.
I know, you are asking WHY you need to do make the visit at all. Can’t you do it over the phone?
Should you ask over the phone or face-to-face?
After all these years in fundraising, I have a personal rule:
Never ask for anything above $1000 on the phone.
Because it’s not worth it. Your chances of success are SO MUCH lower on the phone.
If you are going to ask a donor for more than $1k, you certainly stack the odds in your favor if you meet in person.
It’s so much easier for someone to turn you down over the phone.
You are more distant to them.
There’s no human connection.
There’s a lovely interpersonal rapport when you are in front of your donor.
You just can’t gauge your donor’s body language (which tells you so very much) over the phone.
And there’s another really big reason for in person asks:
If the donor agrees to see you, then they’ve already decided to make a gift of some size.
They wouldn’t waste their time – or yours – on the visit if they were not going to give something to the cause.
So: just think, because you even have the appointment to see them – that means you are on the way to success!
Now, that visit just became a whole lot easier, didn’t it?
Now that you know WHY you need to ask for a personal visit, there’s another question:
HOW do you ask for a face-to-face visit?
You send a letter first.
And you outline what you want to talk about.
Sending the letter first makes it a whole lot easier to pick up the phone and call for the appointment. Yes!
Fundraising guru Andy Robinson has a terrific guide for making the face-to-face ask.
His book,“How to Raise $500 to $5,000 From Almost Anyone,” walks you through a very simple process to create a successful solicitation.
Here’s the terrific letter that Andy suggests you send to your donor.
It’s reprinted from his book:
It’s that time of year again – we’re doing our annual fundraising campaign in support of (brief description of your mission.)
Last year, you made a very generous donation of $500, which is a big gift for us, and we really appreciate your support.
Contributions from people like you helped us to accomplish:
- (Big impressive accomplishment)
- (Not so big, but still impressive)
- (Something interesting the donor is unlikely to know about)
This year we face a number of challenges:
- (Big scary challenge – maybe increased demand for your services?
- (Not so big but still impressive)
- (Perhaps something about building your organization rather than providing services or doing advocacy work)
To meet these challenges, we’re asking our most generous supporters to consider doubling their gifts, which in your case would be a contribution of $1000.
I appreciate that this is a big commitment, so before you decide, I’d love the chance to meet with you, give you an update, learn more about your interest in our work, and ask for your support.
I’ll be calling next week to set up an appointment.
Again, thank you for your generous and loyal support. I look forward to speaking with you, and meeting with you, very soon.
CAVEAT: You need to adapt the language in this letter for your own tone and organization.
Don’t just copy it!
And remember, this letter lays a clear groundwork for the gift.
If your donor agrees to visit after receiving this letter, you can be pretty sure she is going to do something.
What I like:
- It paves the way for your phone call.
- It paves the way for your visit.
- It sets up your visit for success: the donor knows what you are up to and what you are asking for.
- It makes it so much easier to get the ask out of your mouth because you’ve already made it on paper.
- You are not surprising your donor at all.
I can’t imagine an easier way to pave the way for an ask, can you?
So try a version of this letter.
Let it open the door for your ask.
Send a letter first explaining why you want to visit and what you will be asking for. It lays the groundwork for a seamless and positive visit with your donor!