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How Board Members Can Help Increase Donations by 39%

If you are serving as a nonprofit board member, I’m sure you are often asked to help in fundraising.

Here’s how you and your fellow board members can help increase donations to your organization by 39% – without having to do any “asking.”

To Increase Donations, All You Have to Do is Say “Thank You.”

Are you and your fellow board members nervous about having to solicit or ask for gifts? We understand.

So we’d like to suggest a different role in fundraising for you. How about taking on a thanking role with donors?

When you, as a board member, offer your personal thanks to your organization’s donors, you can make a huge difference.  In fact, you can directly impact your institution’s bottom line, while avoiding gift solicitations that could be awkward.

Special Thank You Treatment for Donors.

Try this test and track your results. Then you can evaluate how this strategy works for you and your fellow board members.

The next time your organization sends out a fundraising appeal, work with your staff to select out a random group of donors to receive a special thank you treatment.

Organize a team of  board members to make thank you phone calls to these donors within 24 hours of the gift being received. It’s important to make the call immediately after your organization receives the gift.

If the donor does not answer, the board member can leave a message that simply thanks the donor.

The phone calls are not about asking for another gift. They are for stewardship only.

If any of the board members are adventurous, they can take another step and ask the donor why they chose to make this gift. That would create a rich conversation that the donor will enjoy.

Track Your Results.

A few months after this first gift, your organization should send another fundraising appeal to all donors – both those who received the extra thank you phone call and those who just received a standard acknowledgment letter.

And when repeat gifts come in, compare the results of both groups.

You’ll find, when all other things are equal, some interesting results.

The donors who received a prompt, personal thank you from a board member within 24 hours of the gift being received, will usually give up to 39% more than the other group.

This is how board members help increase donations without having to ask.

3. The Original Research Findings.

Fundraising pioneer Penelope Burk performed the original research that found these amazing results. Her team originated the  “Donor Centered Fundraising” philosophy, a paradigm shift that changes the emphasis away from the organization’s needs and instead focuses on helping the donor create an impact.

Penelope Burk shared this data on board member thank you calls at an AFP International Conference from her research:

  • Donors received a thank you phone call from a board member within 24 hours of receiving the gift.
  • The next time they were solicited, they gave 39% more than the other donors who did not receive a call.
  • After 14 months, those called were giving 42% more.

4. How to Implement Board Member Thank You Calls.

Some board members may offer to make calls, but not follow through. So you will want only those who are enthusiastic and committed to sign up for this project.

  1. First, share the data with board members about the financial results from making prompt, personal thank you calls to donors. Be sure everyone understands the “why” of the project and the upside positive potential from making these calls promptly.
  2. Have one or two board members take charge of the project. Enlist a small committee. Be sure to coordinate closely with your staff.
  3. Make sure the committee members all understand that prompt timing is essential.
  4. Give each committee member specific phone calls to make. Don’t send out a whole list to the entire committee and hope that someone will make the calls.
  5. Have each board member report back weekly on the results of their calls.

One organization we know asked the board members to post their thank you call results on a shared Google document. That way each board member could see who was making their calls. Word had it that a competition took hold and each board member tried to outdo the others.

The busiest person on the board – a busy lawyer – made sure his calls were as up to date – or more up to date – as all the others. Now that is productive and friendly competition!

A Success Story of How Board Members Can Help Increase Donations:

Here’s an example from our own history:

One of our consulting clients, a local Rape Crisis Center, was staging their annual auction. One of our friends attended with us, and apparently purchased a lot of items at the auction.

The next day I was sitting in my office, when our friend called.

Excitedly, he said, “You won’t believe what just happened!”

“I’m speechless,” he continued. “I just got a phone call from a board member of the Rape Crisis Center thanking me for . . . for   . . .  for being the largest donor at the auction last night!”

“I just can’t believe it,” he gushed. “I’ve given money all over the country and I’ve NEVER gotten a call from a board member.”

We could just feel him beaming all the way over the phone. He was absolutely thrilled.

The next year, he asked us “Is the Rape Crisis Center having their auction this fall? I haven’t gotten an invitation yet?”

That year, he bought an entire table and hosted the president of the largest foundation in North Carolina at his table. I think the Rape Crisis Center has him for life now, because they gave him such special treatment.

Bottom Line: Board Members Can Increase Donations to Their Organizations – Simply by Saying Thank You.

A little effort goes a long way – remember that and remind your board. A simple acknowledgement phone call could be just the thing your donor needs to become a loyal lifelong major donor.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.

Does your institution have a true culture of philanthropy?

Diving deeper, the real question is: is there really full support for fundraising across your entire organization?

All the way from your board members to program staffers?

Often, we find many fundraising teams are not getting full support from their institutions. They are forced to operate in a silo – walled off from other departments. A sense of camaraderie between colleagues is missing.

When fundraising operates in a vacuum, results will be less successful. You’ll never reach your true financial potential in this type of environment.

If you want to reach your ultimate revenue goals you must have broad support for fundraising across your entire organization.

So how do we build broad-based organizational support for fundraising – a true culture of philanthropy?

1. It’s an Attitude Thing

We find that non-fundraisers tend to think of fundraising as only one activity: “asking for money.”

What’s more, it’s not understood that smart fundraising requires much, much more than just the act of asking.

If your colleagues and leaders get stuck on the issue of asking, they might default to thinking that fundraising is distasteful.  As a result, they certainly don’t want to get involved.

Your colleagues may think if you ask them to get involved in “fundraising,” then you’ll ask them to solicit, which they very likely will avoid.

So, you are dealing with an attitude thing – people’s thoughts and their feelings.

If you want to create change – remember meet people where they are. Your job is to slowly start to land different ideas in their heads. 

2. Redefine “Fundraising” into Something Broader and Bigger Called “Philanthropy”

The idea of “fundraising” carries with it ideas like sales, money, asking, soliciting and hitting people up.

The term “fundraising” can put people off.

Yet, on the other hand, the idea of “philanthropy” feels grand and lovely. It carries with it a sense of nobility and community.

The term “philanthropy” can attract people. It makes them want to get involved.

Don’t forget: When you redefine fundraising into the more lofty concept of philanthropy, you open people to new ideas and new possibilities.

Jeanne Tedrow, CEO of Passage Home , (now head of the NC Center for Nonprofits) told us, “Philanthropy just feels different when you are talking to your board and volunteers – they are not so scared to get involved.” 

3. Begin by Asking Everyone to Take Part in Thanking Donors

Thanking donors is an easy job. It’s enjoyable and satisfying, and it’s the right thing to do.

Why not ask colleagues across the organization about creative ways to thank your donors?  This can be interesting and fun, while introducing the idea that donors are important, wonderful people.

When you make it about honoring the awesome people who make your work possible – then it’s not about “fundraising.” Instead- it’s about philanthropy.

We find board members often really enjoy saying thank you. It’s the perfect place to get them started in fundraising. Try a thankathon to launch your next annual campaign.

Focus your board members on thanking and suddenly you just might have enthusiastic board members on the fundraising train.

Sue Acree of Literacy Connections summed this up during an Insiders webinar:“Focus on the donors and the money will follow.”

4. Find Ways for Everyone to Engage with Your Lovely Donors

Just think how much fun you could have if you got the entire organization actively engaging with, and celebrating your donors.

You may be asking: how can you engage donors with your mission? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Give them tours.
  2. Invite them to panel discussions.
  3. Introduce them to program staffers. Bring your key “subject matter expert” program heads to meet donors. Donors always love to meet your program colleagues who are carrying out your mission.
  4. Ask donors to volunteer. Ask them what they think of the work.
  5. Share stories and more stories about your organization’s work. Donors love to hear often about how they are making a difference through YOU.

As Meg Revelle from Arts Together shared after an INSIDERS webinar:

“At our board meeting, we brainstormed all the ways we could help engage donors. Each Board member left with at least one idea to implement. They chose what excited them and they wanted to do – and it was such fun!”

Bottom Line: Create a Culture of Philanthropy

If you want to create a culture of philanthropy at your organization, make it easy and make it enjoyable for everyone. You’ll find broader support across your organization once more colleagues participate.

As Suzie Acree said, “This is changing my thinking….I am gaining a new perspective on donors that makes it more fun, for not only me, but my staff and board!”

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. We’re with our clients every step of the way, inspiring their teams and board, building confidence, driving action and measuring success. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a strategy or consulting call with us.

People often ask us: “What do I talk about when I meet with donors?  How will I start a conversation? What questions should I ask?

We have a very simple approach to starting conversations with donors.

We like to probe, so we know immediately where the donor stands and what is on their mind. Our favorite “Golden Question” is:

“What are your impressions of . . . ?”

This open-ended question often brings forth interesting results.  Not only that, we’ve raised lots of money by asking this question.

This phrase creates an easy, gentle opening to find out what’s going on with your donor.  It’s completely donor-centered, and focused on them.

Moreover, this question helps you find out pretty immediately what your donor is thinking; about your presentation, your cause, your event, your plans, or even your  organization’s vision.

This question is a golden formula to help open your donor’s heart to your cause.

Why?

Because it generates the donor’s own thinking about your issue. For example, it encourages them to ponder your presentation and react to it.

Asking for their feedback and thinking helps them digest your material, and think more deeply about it. They are no longer passive in the conversation – instead, they are active participants.

Above all we want to know what is on THEIR mind, what they think and how they feel about it.

Your job is to ask, and then listen carefully.

Your donor is not going to get excited about your cause just by listening to you doing all the talking. Don’t forget the fundraiser’s Kiss of Death – talking too much!

Your wonderful, generous, well-meaning donor needs time to mull over what you’ve said.  They need to “stew” in the urgent need or bold vision you’ve just presented.

It’s certainly a much deeper conversation than if you had just presented, thanked them and left.

Get the donor talking to YOU – not the other way around.

Remember, it’s always all about the donor. When we are in a face-to-face meeting, we often forget this.  Too many nonprofit CEOs, fundraisers and even board members think they have to be great salespeople and make a great pitch.

That’s not true.

What you need to do is simply focus on the donor – and listen to them. Your goal is to draw out the donor and get them engaged with you about your cause.

It’s really amazing what you can find out – but you have to ask. And you won’t do that if you’re doing all the talking.

Examples – Put the Golden Question to use:

1.  At the close of a visit with a donor: “What are your impressions?”

Once, we had an Advice Visit regarding a big capital campaign with a potential donor. At the end of our visit, we asked “What are your impressions of our ideas?”

He shared some deep reservations about our project.

Thankfully, we were able to quickly address the issues that were holding him back. He then moved forward to become a substantial donor, and it was a huge win for our campaign.

2. Cultivating a major prospect: “What are your impressions?”

Gail was once walking out of a facility tour with a major donor, who was a candidate for the leadership gift for our capital campaign.  She asked him: What were your impressions of the tour?”

Well, after 5 minutes of conversation – he became so enthusiastic and engaged that he literally invited her to bring forward a $5ook proposal.

Now, that’s cultivation.

3. After a pitch: “What are your impressions?”

We often make presentations to potential clients in order to help them stage successful capital campaigns or build profitable major gift programs.

We always ask, as we wrap up, about their impressions of our presentation. And we get terrific feedback regarding what they are thinking.

4. When we are training or presenting: “What are your impressions?”

In our Fired-Up Fundraising workshops with board members, we want to help them ponder and digest the material we are discussing.

So we model the Golden Question, frequently asking them “what are your impressions of these ideas?” It gets them to mull over and reflect on the discussion, and ultimately walk away with much more than if we had simply presented and left.

5.  After a formal presentation: “What are your impressions?”

One of our clients, a Vice Chancellor at a major university, recently made a big presentation to the Board of Visitors. When she was finished she asked her boss, the Chancellor, about his reaction to her ideas.

She asked him, “What were your impressions of my presentation?” As a result, she received positive feedback from her boss.

Bottom Line: Ask “What Are Your Impressions?”

The Golden Question can give you wonderful information about your donors, colleagues, board members, even family. It really works in all settings to set you up for success in your relationships.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. We’re with our clients every step of the way, inspiring their teams and board, building confidence, driving action and measuring success. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a strategy or consulting call with us.

What is the outlook for post-COVID fundraising? There’s good news to share!

Giving is up – right now – across the board.

What’s more, the outlook for charitable giving in the next year or two is also looking very good. We predicted a number of positive trends for 2021, and are happy to see some come to fruition so soon.

Recent reports and studies are showing positive signs on the giving horizon.

First of all, here’s a look at recent trends from 2020.

Giving in 2020 was up significantly.

A report issued by the well-respected Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) managed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, showed that last year, overall charitable giving grew a whopping 10.6% in 2020 over 2019.  

This is really cause for celebration.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s Growth in Giving database charts giving trends from 2,496 organizations that raise $100k – $10 million annually. Clearly this increase in giving was driven by donors reaching out to help those in economic hardship during the pandemic. But many charities of all types saw giving increases.

Small donors are back!

Some of the best news is that small donors, who provide much of the sustainable annual giving for many nonprofits, are returning. We’ve been very worried that small donor gifts had been declining over the past few years. Moreover, these smaller donors are the backbone of many nonprofit organizations’ financing.

Here’s the FEP data as reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Gifts of less than $250 grew by a total of 15.3% last year over 2019.

$250-$999 gifts increased by 8%.

Gifts of $1,000 or more grew by 10.4%.

But there’s worrisome news too: Donor retention plunged again to a low of 43.6%. (the lowest donor renewal rate since the FEP began tracking in 2004-05.) This means that less than half of the donors who gave in 2019 repeated their support by giving again in 2020.  

Donor loyalty continues to be one of the greatest challenges of many fundraising programs. Retention rates of new donors continue to decline.

Post-COVID fundraising outlook.

Looking ahead, there’s great news on the horizon. So, what can we expect from post-COVID fundraising?

Projections show an excellent outlook for fundraising in 2021 and 2022. The well-respected Lilly Family School of Philanthropy recently shared a report projecting total giving to rise 4.1% in 2021, and 5.7% in 2022.

When you look at individual giving, which supplies the majority of many organizations’ contributed revenue, the Lilly report forecasts a year-over-year rise of 6% in 2021.

This is great news for many nonprofits. 

Why the rosy forecasts for 2021 and 2022?

For decades we have seen giving levels follow the U.S. stock market. When the stock market rises, charitable giving also goes up. We find that when donors’ portfolios are growing robustly, then donors feel more wealthy. When your major donors are feeling wealthy, then their charitable gifts often increase. 

To quote the Lilly report:

“Individual and household giving is influenced by growth in the S&P 500, especially giving by those with median and higher levels of income. A large body of work demonstrates, with few exceptions, that as income and wealth increase, so do the amounts that households give to charity.”

Estate gifts are also projected to rise over the next couple of years.

This is, again, because of the robust stock market. It’s because the amount of an estate gift ultimately depends on the value of the estate’s assets. Many estates include substantial stock investments, which have appreciated nicely in the past few years. So any bequests your nonprofit is targeted to receive will be more highly valued than before.

The Lilly report bases its rosy outlook on several assumptions – namely that the economy will continue to stabilize and grow as people receive vaccinations and life begins to return to “normal.”

Ultra-high-net-worth gifts are also seeing an uptick right now, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Billionaire William Ackman recently donated shares worth one billion, and other mega donors like Elon Musk recently made 9-figure gifts.

Bottom Line: Post-COVID fundraising outlook.

What does this robust forecast mean? It means take heart. Things are looking up. Keep a sense of optimism and possibility about your fundraising. You’ll likely see that your own donors are also primed to give. 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign – we can help. We’re with our clients every step of the way, inspiring their teams and board, building confidence, driving action and measuring success. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a strategy or consulting call with us.

Many organizations are either planning a capital campaign, or thinking about one in the future.

It’s what happens early on in the capital campaign planning process that really lays the groundwork for success. This Checklist Tool will help you and your team evaluate how prepared you are for a capital campaign in the future.

In our work with clients to set up a winning capital campaign, we begin by evaluating their readiness based on these key seven areas of capital campaign planning.

It’s what you do ahead of time that makes all the difference in capital campaign planning.

Smart capital campaign planning is like stacking the dominoes.  You take the time to carefully and strategically get organized, and line everything up.

Then, once the campaign begins, everything comes together quickly. Like the dominos, they all drop one after the other in perfect sequence.

Please know that very few organizations can say 100% YES to all these questions below. It’s the questions that you answer “maybe” that will point out your focus for the next few months.

This is a handy tool for the board and CEO to understand just how much additional preparation they need to do before moving forward with a capital campaign.

YOUR BOARD

Can your board set the financial pace for a campaign?

Are your board members considered to be leaders in the community?

Is your board in full agreement on the proposed plan for a campaign?

Does your board have good fundraising connections?

Do your board members operate with business minded board practices?

Does your board have a good relationship with staff?

VOLUNTEER LEADERSHIP

Do you have a history of influential people involved with your cause?

Can you enlist top leaders in your community who are well-known to help lead the capital campaign?

Do you have volunteer campaign leaders or campaign chairs already enlisted?

Can your volunteer leaders make major gifts to the campaign?

PROSPECTS

Do you currently have a vigorous major gift program in place?

Do you think you have the donor prospects to reach your campaign goal? 

Are your donors well cultivated and involved?

Can you identify your leadership gifts up front?

Can you identify 15-20 potential sources of major campaign gifts right now?

DEVELOPMENT OFFICE and INFRASTRUCTURE

Do you have experienced, capable staff?

Is the development office fully staffed now?

Is your administrative back office functioning smoothly?

Do you have a system for tracking pledges and policies for accepting gifts of stock and real estate?

Have you allocated funds to staff up and pay for campaign expenses? (the campaign will cost 8-10% of your overall dollar goal.)

Have you determined if you need outside expert guidance as Campaign Counsel?

YOUR PLAN/CASE

Is the need well established, urgent and understood?

Do you have an updated strategic plan?

Do you have an updated master facilities plan with completed capital projections and budgets?

Can you convey the impact of your project in vivid emotional terms?

Do you have data to back up the need you are addressing in your case for support? 

IMAGE

Is your organization well respected in the community, with a track record of success? 

Is there confidence in your organization and its leadership?

Are you communicating your results and your good work to the rest of your community?

Are you visible in the community?

TIMING

Is the fundraising environment good right now?

Are the economic conditions in your community good right now?

Bottom Line on Capital Campaign Planning.

If you have these conditions all set, then you are ready to embark on a capital campaign. 

If not, it’s time to get to work enlisting volunteers, identifying prospects, cultivating your prospective donors and sharpening up your case for support.

Let us know if we can help. We’re happy to provide a free strategy call to guide your capital campaign planning, anytime. 

We all know that major gift fundraising comes down to the moment of truth – when you actually talk with a donor about a gift.

So how can you make asking much easier and more successful?

Often, it can be an exciting, scary moment. But an asking conversation does not have to be always nerve wracking.

Remember these insights and you’ll be far more calm and successful when you are discussing a gift with a donor. 

We’ll be teaching these approaches to successful major gift asks in our 2021 Major Gifts Intensive, which starts next week. Find out more and join us here.

1. Asking is a process, not a one-time transaction.

You’ve got to remember that this is NOT a “make or break” moment.

Asking is not a single point in time. Instead, it’s a process that happens over several conversations. That’s why we call it an Asking Conversation.

At Gail Perry Group, we teach a donor-centered approach to asking that is completely permission-based. Following this approach, you would simply ask your donor:

  • If they’d like to learn more?
  • What about your work most interests them?
  • Would they like to know how they could help?

And ultimately:

  • Would they be interested in discussing a possible gift?

When you take your time, these preliminary conversations help you develop a trusting relationship with your donor. And it builds up to a generous gift.

2. Giving is an emotional act by the donor.

Don’t forget: The act of making a gift is an emotional act.

When a donor gives, they are often feeling warm and fuzzy about the difference they can make. 

It’s an emotional energy. And it connects them deeply to some memory, belief, or deep commitment – one of their closely-held personal values.

In all our planning, analyzing and scripting, we forget that our donor is a living, breathing human with needs, desires, interests and passionately held beliefs.

While we are focusing on dollars that will help us toward a goal, your donor is focusing on what’s going on in their heart – how do they “feel” about your cause. How do they “feel” about the difference they might be able to make?

We miss the mark when we focus too much on the logic and the numbers. (You do need the numbers to provide credibility but don’t lead with them.)

3. It’s not about money.

Yes, fundraising is about much, much more than money.

If you think what you are asking for is “money,” then you won’t be very successful.

If you think it’s all about money, then you won’t be connecting with the higher, altruistic purpose that lives in your donor’s heart.

You’ll instead be engaging in a sales transaction, and one at a much, much smaller level.

One of my great fundraising mottos is:

“Fundraising is not about money, it’s about changing the world.”

If you focus your conversation and your energy about what’s at stake, and how this gift could make such a huge difference, then you’ll be able to raise mega gifts.

4.  It’s not about you.

Many people are self conscious and focusing on themselves when they are chatting with a donor about a gift. Maybe it’s nervousness or awkwardness, but they are self-focused rather than donor-focused.

BUT it’s really all about the donor.  You should be thinking of him or her all the time, not about yourself.

You need to take your cues from the donor, and not be thinking about what you will say or do next.

We fundraisers have learned (the hard way sometimes) that the only way to be a successful solicitor is to let the donor lead the way.

Your donor is not particularly interested in what’s going on with you. What they are interested in is how they can help.

5. People give to an exciting opportunity with the HIGHEST impact.

When you are preparing for an ask, you must always, always remember that people want to give to a project with high impact and exciting potential.

Too many fundraisers focus on the money. Or they will focus on the project. We recommend that you focus on IMPACT.

So when you are presenting your “Big Idea” for your donor, you’ll need to talk in the largest possible terms.

Here are a few examples to keep in mind:

  • For a kids’ soccer team: “Help these young people develop skills and experience of teamwork in sports to help them prepare for life.”
  • For a literacy program: “Help people gain self-respect, tools for better employment and become productive citizens. And you are also helping an entire family get on their feet.”
  • For an independent school: “Help young people get the best possible education so they will be prepared for life – they are our future.”
  • For a health clinic: “Our health infrastructure is a basic foundation for economic development in our community.”

And on and on. You can take any project and blow it up to its highest potential.

Bottom Line: These ideas about asking will help you be calmer, more confident and much more successful. 

Our Major Gifts Intensive 2021 is starting next week with orientation. We’ve got such a terrific group of smart organizations who are joining us to launch or expand a major gift initiative. We have spaces for two more organizations if you want to join at the last minute! Email anne@gailperry.com if you are interested. 

We all dream about transformational gifts. Those are the gifts that can change your organization’s trajectory into a new, expanded reach. These are the gifts that can blow your mind – with all they can accomplish and the impact they can make.

So how do you find the very special donor who has the capacity, interest and commitment to make a transformational gift?

What’s the Pathway to a Transformational Gift?

First of all, you have to start at the beginning. You’ll need to do deep discovery and qualification work. Your goal is to actually identify the donors who might be in a position to consider a truly transformational gift.

Usually, they have been giving to your institution for a while. They know and respect you, your team, and the CEO. They’ve seen your impact firsthand. They are treated like insiders because they already have a long-term commitment to your work.

You Need a Transformational Project.

Never forget! Small ideas trigger small gifts; transformational ideas bring transformational gifts.

Where’s your transformational project? Can it change the world? Do you have Big Ideas about who you can be and what your institution can do in the world?

Transformational gifts usually require a transformational project in order to inspire your donor. It has to be something that will trigger the donor to think bigger than they have ever thought before. Something inspiring and exciting.

You Need a Transformational Conversation.

Stand in the place of vision and possibility – that’s where the power is. This is the place that holds such energy – the power of potential, of goodness, of expansion and abundance.

Your donor may have a personal, visceral reaction to this vision and possibility. It’s exciting. It’s energizing. And it can mobilize their energy!

Speak to your donor’s heart – and their imagination. Transform the donor’s ideas about the impact they can truly have.

You Need a Transformational Mindset.

It’s time for you to shift your mindset and relationship with your donor. You are no longer across the table from them, pitching ideas. Instead, you shift from “soliciting” to standing right beside them.

In a way, you are transforming your position. It’s like you are standing with your donor in that place of possibility, walking along with them, helping them explore the future. That’s when you truly become a philanthropic advisor, facilitating a gift.

Join the Major Gifts Intensive coaching program for 2021

If you really want to learn how to set up and close transformational gifts, join our Major Gifts Intensive course. You’ll get deep training on the permission-based, conversational approach to a gift. We’ll teach you five different ways to set up and close a major, principal or capital campaign gift.

The Major Gifts Intensive is live training with Gail and Kathryn. We’ll help your organization instill major gifts as part of a true culture of philanthropy, so that you have the systems, skills and infrastructure to expand major gifts to your institution.

What’s more, if you do the work with us, you can typically receive a minimum ten to one return on your organization’s investment in the course. Most organizations have seen a much higher ROI. The program more than pays for itself, even the first year.

Applications close next week on Feb 24th. Orientation is on March 2. Let us know if you are interested by going to this page, and submitting your interest so we can schedule a call. We can help you and your team ramp up your skill sets and close more gifts.

Happy Weekend! We thought you’d be interested in this topic today. And if you are interested in closing more major and principal gifts, then we have a great guide today for you to save time. 

It’s about all the time we waste cultivating donors. To us, it’s so frustrating to nurture a donor who never comes through with a gift. 

We have all been there. This particular donor loves all the attention, attends all our events, and enjoys our nice dinners. But they never make the gift that we surely think they will. 

You’ve probably been here as well. Have you ever spent months and months, even years, before you manage to get the donor into an ask conversation? 

How about all that time you are spent cultivating your donor? Is it wasted? Could you have moved more quickly?  Would your donor have been willing to give sooner??

How can you know? 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to move to an ask conversation more quickly? How nice would it feel to be able to find out early in the game if your donor wants to help NOW rather than later? 

It really is possible to find out where your donor stands.

 You just have to ask. But you have to ask skillfully. 

We’ve developed a cultivation process that we call the Skillful Conversation. It’s like a roadmap that guides you to find out what you need to know– and get the ask on the table as soon as possible so you can save time.

What’s more, it’s extremely polite and donor-centered.  This conversation process is never, ever pushy. (We’re southern, remember?) 

With the Skillful Conversation process, you’re never directly asking for a gift. You are oblique, inquiring, playing sleuth.

In our upcoming Major Gifts Intensive program, we’ll be training and coaching our members on how to implement the Skillful Conversation process. What’s more, we’ll be teaching them five different ways to get to an Ask Conversation. If you’d like to join us, check out the program here.  Applications close Feb 24th so schedule your call with us quickly!  

What you are really doing is simply finding out what’s on your donor’s mind. 

You can easily ask your donor:  

“How interested are you in our cause and our organization’s work?”

What resonates most with you about our work?”

“Would you like to  know how you can help?”

These are such important questions! But so few fundraisers get around to asking about the important stuff. We are all too busy wining, dining and cultivating our donors. 

The end result – we postpone important conversations to the back burner. We beat around the bush, because we just don’t know what to say.  

Sometimes we probably feel awkward, a little nervous, and don’t want to appear pushy. We don’t want to sacrifice our relationship by asking too soon or too quickly – because we know that strategy can certainly backfire! 

Never assume. 

This is one of the great rules of fundraising – don’t assume you know what your donor wants to do, or when they want to do it. 

You can easily find out if your donor is ready to give now vs later. Don’t assume. Just ask. 

Ask them if they’d like to talk about supporting your organization. Or ask them if this is a good time to chat about support. 

It’s all based in permission. Step-by-step, you are asking your donor if they are interested in finding out this or that, or if they want to explore this or that. 

You can relax – just keep asking questions, and your donor feels like she’s in charge. 

Bottom Line: She who asks the questions, controls the conversation.

These tips today can take you right down the pathway to a major, principal and/or transformational gift. Don’t forget to use the Skillful Conversation process. Be polite, donor-centered, and gracious. Ask your donor directly how they feel and what they want to do.

Your fundraising totals will certainly go up! And you’ll save time. Remember the climate is excellent for major gifts right now. Donors are giving. Don’t shy away! 

P.S. Major Gifts Intensive 2021 is open for applications!

Would you like: 

  • A systematic, proven major gifts training and coaching program to expand your team’s success? 
  • To learn permission-based asking techniques that can close transformational gifts? 

The Major Gifts Intensive will help you lay down the systems, mindset, vision, structure and processes for a long-term productive major gift program that will deliver measurable results for years.

We’ll share the core highly successful strategies that we’ve taught thousands of people since 2000, from community organizations to the largest universities.

Find out more here. 

We all know that year-end is the most productive time of the year for fundraising. So let’s take advantage of the generosity this season and make sure you bring in the year-end gifts to meet your fundraising goal.

With only a few days left this year, we want you to focus on the most productive possible way to spend your time: right in front of your major donors.

Some fundraisers shy away from their donors in December. On the contrary, we think you need to be visible. It’s important to ask them if they’d like to consider a Leadership Annual Fund Gift.

This one activity could make the largest difference in your year-end fundraising results.

Should you pull your major donors out of the year-end fundraising campaign?

Should you do this? Absolutely not. Your major donors, who are true believers in your cause, want to help. It is perfectly appropriate to ask them to join your annual campaign with an annual gift.

Don’t hold off on the annual ask because you are saving them for something much larger – perhaps a nice capital campaign gift.

Here are two terrific reasons to invite your major donors to make an annual gift – at any time of the year.

1. Participating in the annual campaign will create a deeper connection with your organization.

Recognizing them as Leadership Annual Fund donors sets up these lovely people to be THE philanthropic leaders in your stakeholder community.

Now you have more access to them: you are able to honor them as the true VIP’s that they are.  Even more, you can use the annual fund opportunity to engage them and bring them even closer to your organization.

So the year-end annual gift is important. It becomes yet another step in their cultivation and engagement – leading to a much, much larger campaign gift.

Their ongoing participation promotes “buy-in” on their part. Even though they might help with a campaign gift later, they can enjoy their relationship with you right now.

Above all, you want to make their annual fund gift an “Occasion of Joy and Celebration” on BOTH your part and your donors.  You have the chance to make your donor feel joyful about her gift and her overall relationship with your cause.

Don’t miss this special opportunity!

2. These year-end gifts are easy to close.

Why are these the easy gifts? It’s because these donors are pre-sold. You won’t need to educate them, or spend a lot of time developing a close relationship, because it already exists.

Focusing here is the most productive place for you to put your energy – especially if you evaluate the return on your investment of time.

And if you consider the annual gifts that all your major donors might consider, it adds up. I’ll bet it is a substantial part of your year-end fundraising goal.

All fundraisers know that it is the higher dollar donors who make the most difference in our totals. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to zoom over your year-end goal with some easy, large gifts? :)

It’s not too late to make it happen.

Here’s our simple call to action:

Identify your top 10-15 major gift prospects who have not yet made a gift this year – and connect with them.

Find out what is on their minds and invite them to support your organization this year with an annual gift.

Spending your time with these funding sources is clearly the absolute best place for you to be in late December. So connect with these wonderful donors who already believe in you and have supported you in the past.

Spend your time where the pockets are the deepest, if you want to raise the money you need.

Bottom line on year-end gifts:

If you don’t do anything else in your year-end campaign, you must do this. Visit with your major donors and invite them to invest in your cause.

Good luck!

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign and would like to schedule a strategy call with us or learn about our unique Campaigns by the Numbers approach, let us know. 

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

If your organization is running a capital campaign right now, you are probably finding more than a few haunting challenges these days. 

Even in stable times, campaigns are high-risk projects that take persistence, dedication and creativity. 

 And now, in the midst of all that 2020 has brought, everything is even more difficult. Yes, it’s a scary year – for a lot of reasons. 

But it’s not all scary.

Don’t let the pandemic goblins get you down. 

 We’ve seen many successes this year!

  • Capital campaigns we are coaching are moving toward their goals quite successfully this year. 
  • We are seeing the advantages of conducting virtual feasibility studies.
  • Our clients continue closing lead gifts – virtually. 
  • The Campaign Steering Committees we work with are maintaining momentum and enthusiasm.

Exciting News: We’re launching a new on-demand course in November! Capital Campaigns in Times of Crisis: 5 Keys to Success in Today’s Uncertain World. We will share how to chart a course through tough times to achieve a successful capital campaign. Stay tuned, and plan to join in! 

Today let’s have some Halloween fun. The campaign werewolf is not going to haunt you.

 It’s entirely possible to overcome these energy-sapping roadblocks:

1. Does calling on campaign donors feel like a trick . . . or a treat?

Talking with donors by phone or zoom can be full of surprises, tricks and sometimes special treats. 

But it takes more than dark magic to get donors to engage with you virtually. You need to employ your new and improved fundraising skills.  

We hear from fundraisers who are terrified trying reach out to a donor they don’t know. How should they craft a pretext for the visit? They feel awkward, grappling for the right thing to say and do. 

Are the prospect of these donor calls haunting you?

The good news is – these calls and zoom visits can be a breeze. Once you learn to have a Skillful Donor Conversation, and zero in on your donor’s interests, these calls can even be joyful and fun. 

Our upcoming course will touch on these techniques, so if you’re working to reach out to campaign donors – I hope you can join in!

2. Has your campaign goal become a ghostly apparition?

Has the flow of gifts into your campaign become just a trickle? Are your donors ghosting you? Are your key Foundation donors – who were once top prospects – shifting to other pandemic-related priorities? 

Your campaign might be stagnating.  What’s worse, your original campaign goal feels like hocus-pocus – something conjured up when times were good. 

BUT – it doesn’t have to be this way! 

We are seeing client capital campaigns move toward their goals nicely. Even when the pace has to slow down, we are using the extra downtime to dive into analytics and refine prospect lists.

You CAN keep moving toward your goal. 

Right now, even in this tough virtual environment, moving ahead just takes constant attention, gentle prodding, unremitting cheerfulness, and being present in front of your donors as much as possible. 

3. Will it take more than a séance to bring your campaign committee back to life?

 Your Campaign Steering Committee may have vanished into thin air. Your campaign volunteers might have drifted into creepy territory, never to be seen again. What to do? 

You need your key volunteers to open doors, make connections, and think through strategy.  It’s certainly frightening if they aren’t in action. 

But keeping them engaged and active is entirely possible!

Be present. Talk with them one-on-one and help them feel needed and productive. 

Here’s a tip: stage your campaign meetings to feature success stories and generate that magic thing called “momentum.” 

Bottom Line: You Can Create a Robust Capital Campaign – Even in Times of Crisis.

In our new course, we will be sharing our best advice on guiding your capital campaign through tough times. 

While we had a little fun with today’s post – we know that steering capital campaigns successfully through these difficult times is not easy. We’re excited to be sharing the many lessons we have learned with you, and help your capital campaign become more than just witchful thinking. We hope you’ll join us!

 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign and would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, let us know. You can also join our INSIDERS community for more fundraising training and content. We would love to have you! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and a safe Halloween. 

We know our current environment presents challenging times. You’ve had to reinvent just about everything you do – from communicating with your donors to delivering your organization’s services. 

Just about everything is different.

All of these hurdles are interesting to donors! Believe it or not, they actually want to hear about your changes, the issues you are grasping with, the shifts you are making. 

As we’ve said earlier, it’s certainly not business as usual these days. 

So we want to reiterate – you have NEWS to share with your donors. News they are open to hearing about. 

Here are three ways that the current environment opens unique opportunities for fundraising  – new doors to donors. 

1. You have a special opportunity to reengage your donors in your vision for the future.

We recently talked about the fact that a small goal and a small vision won’t cut it in this environment. Remember, the bigger your vision, the more money you can raise. 

You can inspire and reengage your donors right now with an exciting big picture vision of the impact you can make in your community. 

Tough times call for new plans, new visions, new excitement. Donors usually don’t want to give to just the status quo. They do want to give to an exciting initiative. 

These times call upon us to create new initiatives. Then we can easily offer a special project to a donor to peak their interest in funding it.

2. You have new chances to gain access to donors.

Share with donors your plan for moving your organization ahead in this environment. They are open to new kinds of communication. 

Donors are more available now, since many have cut their outside commitments and travel. They may be hungry for good news. 

So reach out to your donors. 

Hold zoom briefings on various aspects of your service area. Have a town hall with your executive director or president. Introduce key program managers to your donors, and let program staff share directly how things are going. 

We want to be clear here – you have an opportunity like no other right now. To be in communication with your stakeholders, major donors, and funders. This environment has made it easier to gain access and get their attention.

So, go for it! Be in frequent touch with your donors. Share the news they are interested in!

3. You have a unique opening to ask for what you need – NOW.

Right now, you have needs that are clear and present. There are new ways of doing business. Your institution might be shifting to digital.  Even more, your cash flow may be seriously down. 

Again, be clear with donors about how they can help. Share with them the impact they can make with their gift – right now. 

You have a unique opportunity right now to connect with donors about specific issues. However, you have to speak plainly. No jargon. No “pat” phrases you’ve been using for years. 

It’s time to reinvent your language to be more authentic, transparent, and informal. 

Can you make that change? 

It’s harder than you think, because you are used to speaking certain ways that are probably too formal and abstract for your donors today. 

You have an opportunity to shape a very powerful, urgent ask right now. Create compelling stories about how you are impacting the world. Your donors will respond! 

Bottom Line: Go forward vigorously! This is the time to step it up, and your donors will follow. 

 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign and would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, let us know. You can also join our INSIDERS community for more fundraising training and content. We would love to have you! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

We are coming up on year-end and, as usual, there is one thing on fundraisers’ minds:

“How can I effectively use this season to ask for gifts?” 

I hope you are not thinking of using these themes or phrases in your appeals: 

“Please help us”             

“We need you”

Or, worse

“We work so hard and do such good work – you should give to us”

Use a proven ask strategy – one that donors respond to.

Here are two highly effective ask strategies that will encourage donors to give more – especially this year-end.

These are not new strategies. Many people use this kind of wording.  But we want to remind you – once again – to format your asks correctly. You’ll raise more money if you do!

1. The Gap Approach

The Gap approach frames a gift conversation in specific dollars. It shows the donor exactly what impact they can make with their gift.

This approach also adds a sort of power, energy, and urgency to the gift conversation.

Remember, donors give because they want to make a difference. This type of approach inspires and excites the donor about what they can accomplish through your organization.

Here’s an example:

“Our current funding can support only 1,000 after-school kids this year. Our data shows that at least 500 other children really need help. 

We seek funding to reach these other 500 children. Your gift of $XXX, will help ensure these kids will get help. 

Think about it. Wouldn’t you say yes?

(Thanks to our friends at Benevon for the original thinking on this idea.)

2. The MPI Fundraising Formula

As you may have guessed, MPI stands for “Money + Purpose = Impact.”  You ask the donor for a certain amount of money, for a specific purpose, and then describe the impact this gift will make.

This approach forces you to be crystal clear about the three fundamental parts of any formal ask. Use this concept in every single ask: digital appeals, direct mail, GivingTuesday, event sponsorships, and especially major gift asks.

The MPI formula works because you are offering the donor a concrete goal. You are connecting your donor to a specific impact that they can make with their gift.

Telling donors exactly how you will spend their money helps build trust. When a donor trusts you and feels good about the impact they made – they will keep on giving.

BOTTOM LINE: Last Tips For Your Ask

1. You always need to say exactly how much you need to raise.

Please don’t be one of those nonprofits who say “we need to raise as much as possible!” That may be true, but it’s not going to inspire your donor. Always, always ask for a specific amount.

2. The specificity of your appeal triggers your donor’s generosity.

What exactly do you want to fund? What are you wanting to accomplish? Be clear about your purpose, and don’t be afraid to tell donors what could be achieved, with their help.

3. Always focus on the impact. It’s the most important part of the ask! 

When you add the impact and the project, you make it not so much about the money. Instead you make it about the powerful good that your donor will be doing in the world.

 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign and would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, let us know. You can also join our INSIDERS community for more fundraising training and content. We would love to have you! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

“Cultivate donors.” I bet you’ve heard that before. 

But how do we accomplish this in the virtual environment? 

We like to think of cultivation as nurturing your donor’s philanthropic interest in your organization’s work.

And you are a crucial piece of the puzzle. You are the factor that allows your donors’ gifts to impact the world. 

So how do you cultivate donors, this fall, during COVID times?

1. Identify the objective of each cultivation activity

Do you often leave your house without a destination in mind? Probably not. So why would you undertake a cultivation journey without a destination in mind and a route to get there?

When you reach out to a donor, are you trying to deepen that relationship with the donor? Or perhaps your goal is just to build awareness and trust with this particular donor? 

Invest time to lay out clear objectives for each contact with a specific donor. Without objectives, you will wander in circles, and go nowhere.

And luckily, the virtual environment forces you to have clear objectives! Since you can’t entertain or take your donor to lunch, you have to be clear on what you want to accomplish when you’re on a virtual visit.  

2. Understand why you are undertaking this activity

What is the difference  between building awareness for a donor and deepening a relationship? 

We’re glad you asked. 

Building awareness is usually the first step in building a connection between the donor and your organization. If a donor understands how your mission and impact connect with their personal passions and interests, they will likely engage more often.

Deepening a relationship is the next step. This leads to a stronger connection between the donor and your work. And that results in larger and/or more frequent gifts.

Your goal is to find out what motivates the donor. What are they excited about? Which aspects about your work do they love? What will create that deeper connection between their philanthropic desire and your organization’s mission?

3. Implement cultivation activities 

Build Awareness 

COVID has challenged the world in many ways, and sometimes in a good way. We have to be more creative. Get back to the basics of what is important. Build relationships. 

Successfully building awareness during COVID relies heavily on your communication strategies. Are they personalized enough? Transparent and authentic enough? Are they focused and interesting? 

Be creative with crafting cultivation experiences. Many organizations are succeeding with virtual town halls. Also many donors are responding to personalized presentations with key program staff. 

Remember, your donors want to learn more about their favorite interest areas. 

A few key tips for these digital events:

  • Keep it short
  • Keep it focused
  • Don’t lose sight of what donors care about

Deepening Relationships

Relationships are what giving is all about. 

What better way to rapidly deepen a relationship with a donor than a 30-minute Zoom call, eye-to-eye, no distractions?

And current events can give you the opportunity you need to find a connection with your donor. Are they a parent? Ask them how the transition back to school during COVID has been. 

Are they constantly commenting on your social media posts? Call them up and thank them for the interest, ask if you can answer any questions for them or for advice.

The golden rule is to create a connection. 

Find topics unique to the donor. Take the time to learn what makes them tick. They are a person, not just a number after all!

You may find that, if you use this time wisely to deepen relationships and gather “data” on your donors, COVID may raise you more future gifts than you could ever imagine. 

Bottom Line: Cultivating donors is really just nurturing that existing relationship

Don’t be scared by the looming idea of needing to “cultivate your donor.” Appeal to them as humans, build a relationship, nurture their interests, and you’ve succeeded. 

 

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. In addition, we are hiring! If you are an experienced consultant interested in joining our team, let us know! https://gailperrygroup.com/were-hiring/

Planning a capital campaign? If you would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, please reach out. You can also join our INSIDERS community for more fundraising training and content. We would love to have you! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

major gift fundraising challenges-infographic

Nonprofits clearly see the potential that major gift fundraising success might offer.

Now, we have over 550 nonprofit leaders sharing their personal challenges in major gift fundraising.

The floodgates have opened here, folks.

Read on for hopes, dreams, frustrations, struggles – that you are probably quite familiar with.

What are the challenges holding us back from major gift fundraising success?

Development directors and staff fundraisers know what is possible but the organizational support is not there.

They are given too much to do. Too much to juggle.

Major gift fundraising has to go on the back burner.

Board members think major gift fundraising is distasteful. They refuse to open doors.

Executive directors set unrealistic goals.

Budgets shortchange investments in major gift fundraising.

Volunteers want to stay focused on events instead of major gifts.

Here are the survey results:

Question 1: What’s your biggest challenge raising major gifts?

not enough major gift prospectsNot Enough Major Gift Prospects 25%

The lack of major gift prospects was the winner by a slim 1% over “not enough time to do it right.”

Many respondents said they were simply were unsure HOW to identify major gift prospects.

How do we find the people with money?

We have no idea how to research to determine who might be a prospect.

How do I recognize a major gift prospect among our current donors and also how do I find someone with money who has never given?

We are uncertain as to who to ask for donations.

This barrier showed up especially in responses from smaller organizations.

It seemed that it wasn’t that there weren’t enough prospects. Instead the issue was we don’t know how to identify them.

not enough timeNot Enough Time To Do It Right 24%

Many fundraisers have too many conflicting demands on their time.

They’re wearing too many hats, often in under-staffed shops.

They’re asked to handle a wide variety of time-consuming tasks.

Here’s where much of the frustration lives, because staffers clearly see that they are spending time on less profitable, less productive tasks, simply because there’s no one else to do them.

I spend too much time setting up processes, entering donations, getting thank you letters out, with little time to move forward to bring us to the next level.

No admin support so I spend all my time on admin tasks instead of major gifts.

I am one person doing major gifts, grants, 2-3 events, material production and editing, marketing and now have been told I need to manage the database too. Hard to get the kind of results expected with that type of workload.

Some staffers clearly saw that it was really a combination of not enough time to invest in prospecting and developing relationships.

Lack of depth in prospects is still a major issue, but it stems from not valuing the time it takes to build that prospect pool.

I wish it was a single issue, but really includes finding prospects and building those relationships, having the time to do that.

unsure or unclearUnsure, unclear of how to approach major donors 20%

There’s much confusion about how to start developing relationships with major donors.

Respondents share that they just don’t know what do to and say, and how to get donors to respond to them.

We don’t know how to approach people with money. What do we do when our donors don’t seem to want to talk to us?

Our donors are not open to meetings. Reaching the donors and securing the ask is troubling.

We need coaching on how to identify and cultivate more major donors – we don’t know where to start.

Again, Executive Directors don’t understand how it works.

Our ED thinks we can just call, get the appointment and ask. Oh! And it is my responsibility.

need structure and supportNeed Structure and Support 18%

Many nonprofits are simply not structured for major gift fundraising.

There’s no one in charge, and no clear responsibility for results.

When major gifts are just something to get to when we have time – the last thing on the list, we can’t expect great results.

Need the staffing structure to make it happen properly. We have the prospects, not enough people to reach out to them all.

Really need help in identifying donors and making a plan.

There is no internal structure and support – I have to do everything myself.

organization doesn't understand or supportOrganization doesn’t understand or support major gift fundraising 13%

Many fundraisers are operating in an organizational culture that does not support major gifts.

There’s literally no structure or support for this type of fundraising.

Or the organization is not willing to invest time and money in developing major projects.

Leadership doesn’t understand exactly what it takes – especially the time commitment required to nurture long term major donor relationships.

Board members find it distasteful to ask potential major donors to consider a gift.

No clear duties are allocated to major gift fundraising. Budgets don’t provide resources for major gift fundraising. Bosses think fundraisers should stay at their desks instead of being out of the office meeting with donors.

Everyone thinks it is someone else’s job.

Our leaders are totally unaware of how fundraising works, especially for major gifts.

We need to change our culture to support major gift fundraising.

We all know what needs to be done, but don’t have the structure and support of the director.

We need the structure and support in the organization to do it.

It is not the organization that doesn’t understand, it is the board.

It’s hard for people to understand that it takes time. I can’t just blurt out an ask on the first visit.

My ED has no idea: Just a “get out there and go to meetings” command.

What Would Help You the Most to Raise Major Gifts?

training in what to do or sayTraining In What To Do and Say 39%

Fundraisers shared a long list of areas where they wanted training or coaching.

It appears that they are quite willing to tackle major gift fundraising but simply don’t know how to do it.

With training in what to do and say, it seems that many fundraisers could be quite successful bringing in major gifts.

I’m unsure of “how to get in the door” when we are just beginning major gift fundraising.

I need help specifically on getting the meeting.

I want training in prospecting.

I need my prospects to agree to meet with me.

How do you tactfully move to the next step with a donor?

How to best convey the “heartstring” need to donors?

I need help getting the courage to make the ask

I have a fear of flubbing up!

organizational supportOrganizational Support 24%

Many fundraisers shared that their board was an impediment.

When board members refuse to support the fundraising process, staff fundraisers are never as successful as they could be.

Board claims not to know anyone who can make major gift as there are no industries in our area. They don’t want to ask individuals who probably could make a major gift.

Board is not engaged in fundraising in the most effective way. They are very hesitant to engage.

I’m having a hard time trying to convince board members that they can help by simply setting up a coffee or lunch where I can meet the donor.

Our board has no interest in helping to open those doors.

The board does not support or understand major gift program.

accountability and coachingAccountability and Coaching 19%

Many respondents shared that they needed a clear plan and structure.

Who is responsive for major gift fundraising? Who does what? Who reports when?

Several said that they thought they could be successful if they had an effective accountability system in place to track and manage the entire process.

First, I need a system/infrastructure to organize the process and keep track of it.

I need help staying organized to make sure I am prioritizing correctly and not missing any good prospects.

I feel like I need a mentor or guide, more so than another class or training.

I need help organizing a pipeline and a tracking system.

Accountability would help with everything – we make time when we have to be accountable.

more time in the dayMore Time in the Day 18%

With overly heavy workloads, it’s no wonder that fundraisers are not successful bringing in major gifts.

I don’t have enough time to do it right because we are always rushing on to the next project that our ED wants us to do.

How do I keep up with the pace as more gets added?

I think I could be successful, but I don’t have the time to do it right.

BOTTOM LINE

Nonprofit staffers clearly understand the potential that major gift fundraising offers. But it’s the organization that holds them back.

With training, coaching, teamwork, systems, accountability, and a clear structure, every organization can be successful at major gift fundraising.

Would you like to overcome the challenges keeping you from raising major gifts?  My Major Gifts Coaching can help you raise the big money that is out there for your nonprofit.

  • You’ll start to bring transformational major gifts into your organization, so that you’ll finally have the funding to do your important work.
  • You’ll get an accountability system and infrastructure that will keep major gifts flowing into your nonprofit for years, so you won’t have to start over all the time.
  • You’ll get your major prospects identified, get a priority system, set up cultivation plans and make those asks, so that you’ll actually close generous gifts.
  • You’ll get your entire board and team trained by me in major gift fundraising so that you’ll all share the same language and have the same tools and skills. You won’t be alone any longer.
  • You’ll have me as your major gift coach and mentor for 10 months next year, so that you’ll have my help when you need it.

I’d love to chat with you about whether coaching is right for you! Let’s bring in those major gifts to YOUR organization!

Click here to Find Out More About Major Gift Coaching and Mentoring With Gail 

Hint: Your donor says to you, “I’m not an ATM.”

Have you ever had the sense that your major gift prospects are fleeing from you?

Disapproval

Do they turn down your invitations for events, tours, even private VIP get-togethers?

Do they refuse to see you with comments as:

“You don’t need to spend time with me!”

Or

“I’m too busy – call me in two months.”

“What happened?” you are thinking to yourself.

“What did I do, or say?”

Hint: Do they ever say to you, “I feel like an ATM for your organization and I’m tired of it.”

The donor says “I am not an ATM.”

This is a huge warning sign.

When you make your major gifts prospects feel like ATMs, do you know what you are doing?

You are making it all about the MONEY.

When you make it all about the money, donors can find it to be an affront. Particularly major gift prospects.

Especially if you dive right into a solicitation on the very first visit.

They are offended, and perceive you as too pushy and aggressive.

So what do you do?

Instead, ask your major gifts prospect for something besides money.

Ask your donor for “help” or “advice” or “their best thinking.”

In doing so, you LISTEN to them.

When you listen to them, you honor them with your undivided attention. And you are asking them for something besides money.

Don't make your donors feel like ATMs!!

Don’t make your donors feel like ATMs!!

They actually have much more to offer you in addition to money.

You do NOT subject them to a boring presentation. (PLEASE!)

Remember: when you meet with a major donor, THEY expect to do the talking.

You have my sympathies! I know it can be hard to contain your enthusiasm!

An experienced fundraiser is ALL ABOUT the donor.

He can control any natural tendency to blather endlessly. He does not monopolize the conversation.

He can sit silently, assessing the donor’s body language, and watch for cues of greater interest.

He can ask leading questions.

He finds out his donor’s hot buttons.

He also is getting his donor’s BEST thinking about such issues as fundraising strategy and other major gift prospects.

He may get guidance – and even help – on how to pull in other important people to back your project,  and how to gain more attention and visibility for your project within your donor’s network.

He also leaves with a followup next step – so he can forge a strong relationship with his donor.

You honor your major gift prospect by asking her for something in addition to money: her help.

Otherwise, you’ll always be making her feel that all you want from her is her money.

And that is a clammy feeling if you are a donor.

So if your donor EVER says “I’m not an ATM,” you have a very clear indication of what has gone wrong.

It’s time to back off and engage with them differently.

After a bit of time it will be appropriate to ask them again – you’ll be able to tell.

Pressured by your boss to ask for money on the first visit? I’ll answer that one later – and I DO have a strategy to offer!

BOTTOM LINE

Asking too often will dig your own grave as a fundraiser. Asking for more than just money will take you very, very far!

Have YOU ever had a donor say to you “I”m not an ATM?”

What did YOU do? Share it for us – I’d love to know!

You’re having events all the time – to open doors, make friends, cultivate potential supporters and thank your current donors.

Make sure your guests have a wonderful time!

Make sure your guests have a wonderful time!

All of these gatherings are wonderful opportunities to bring people closer to your organization.

I LOVE events as cultivation opportunities! Why? Because it’s easier to engage donors in a conversation when you are being social.

The setting is not as formal and intimidating as an office visit. The donor is more relaxed and so are you.

Here are just a few things you can find out from a simple conversation with a prospect at an event:

  • how enthusiastic they are about your cause
  • why they care
  • their personal experiences that tie them emotionally to your cause
  • their other interests, including philanthropic interests
  • their apparent level of wealth
  • their family situation

Here’s how to make the most out of these marvelous cultivation opportunities:

1. Turn your event into a party.

WHO wants to go to an “event,” anyway? Not me for sure. The word “event’ sounds so very boring!

But I’ll be the first one to attend a “party.”

So first of all, you need to turn your events into parties.

Having a fun, pleasant time is paramount to your donors. Why else would they bother to attend? Remember that this is a social occasion – you can’t be too serious or heavy.

Your most important goal is that they enjoy their experience with you. You need to be an excellent host and be all about your guests. Then they’ll be more likely to come back to another event.

2. Don’t skimp.

If you are entertaining wealthy people, or top corporate executives –  all these people are used to living nicely. They are used to good wine (no box wine allowed!) more sophisticated food (no hot dogs unless it’s a cookout), lovely flowers and nice venues.

Make sure your food is nice and fits with your organization's personality.

Make sure your food is nice and fits with your organization’s personality.

If you are staging a quality reception, then you need to make it quality. If it’s a barbecue, then have good quality BBQ food and trimmings.

Just don’t skimp. Whatever the style of your party – It’s worth it to entertain your guests nicely.

But be sure the type and mode of entertaining totally reflects your organization’s culture.

3. Triage your guest list.

Some attendees may be very important to your organization: they will be the ones with deep pockets, or people you are cultivating for an immediate gift, or they may be long term donors. So slather attention on them!

Take a look at the guest list, and divide it by thirds. Identify the top group of most important guests.

Make a plan for them. Know who is coming, why they are coming and how you might move your relationship forward with them at the end. Think of questions you might want to ask them.

Assign these prospects to your staff and board members! THAT’S how you make the most of these events!

4. Give your board members official roles as “hosts.”

Board members often welcome an official role. Here’s what a host does:

  • Greets people warmly at the door.
  • Introduces guests to each other and fosters conversation among them.
  • Seeks out wallflowers (you know those awkward folks standing next to the wall clutching their drink) and welcomes them.

Give them a special name tag that makes it easy to recognize them as board member.  This makes them feel special too!

Assign board members as official hosts!

Assign board members as official hosts!

AND, if board members are up to it – they can be assigned to a couple of guests for a cultivation conversation – “So glad you are here! What is your impression of our organization?”

5. Use a pre-event gathering to make people feel important.

Invite a small subset of the most important guests to arrive 45 minutes before the main event.

Then use that time to give people a preview and tell them why they are important to your organization.

I’ve found that the VIPs will come to a select, private, more exclusive event readily – and then they will stay on for most of the second event. Yay!

6. Offer transportation for older donors.

If you are inviting some older donors, arrange to have them picked up and brought to the event and then driven home afterwards.

You can have staff members do this or recruit board members or other donors who plan to attend the meeting.

Not only will they appreciate the ride, but that’ll increase the likelihood that they actually get there.

7. Manage the program with a charming iron hand.

Worried that your program is going to go on too long? Even when you tell people that they have 5 minutes to speak, they often go on much longer.

My strategy is to have a skilled Master of Ceremonies who knows just how to get people on and off the stage. Encourage your MC to stand right beside the speakers when their time is up.

And be sure to let every speaker know what the MC plans to do to keep the program running.

I usually walk right up to my speakers and say with a big smile, “Remember, you are going to be charming and brief, right?” They laugh but the message gets drilled into their heads.

8. Casual events are often more fun and also more productive.

I love having porch parties at my house. I have a big porch – and people like to come to something that has a more casual feel.

The more relaxed your guests are, the easier it is to have a meaningful conversation with them. So try cookouts, porch parties, and picnics. You might be surprised!

BOTTOM LINE

With a little planning, you can make your donor cultivation event your donors will never forget – AND you’ll go home with new information on where your donors stand!

What are YOUR tips for a fabulous donor event???

Leave a comment and tell me!