Who is exhausted by this ongoing rapidly changing environment?  We feel for you. It’s tough because the landscape keeps changing. Many of the old ways of working are falling away.

Our donors are shifting their preferences, and the way we work is shifting as well.  It’s a rapidly changing game these days for fundraisers!

But the environment also offers very positive potential for philanthropy. The stock market continues to reach new heights. With the soaring stock market, donors “feel” more wealthy. 

Many donors are flush with expanding investment portfolios. And remember, transformational gifts are made with assets, not with cash. A donor will typically make a very large gift by contributing some type of asset, whether it’s real estate, art, stocks, or even cryptocurrency. 

So, what’s working and what’s not working with major donors in this environment? Donors are there, potential gifts are there. Are you and your team ready? 

Be sure to join our Webinar Roundtable on January 19th on “Setting Up the Big Ask in 2022.” We’ll have five experts discussing the most effective approaches for closing generous major gifts this year

Not working: Our regular formats for meeting with donors.

Clearly, with the pandemic, we’ve had to revolutionize the way we engage with donors. 

As disruption continues, we can’t rely on events or meetings any longer to be the reliable outreach tools they used to be for engaging with our donors. All our traditional ways of meeting with and getting to know our donors – many of these have had to go out the door. 

Donors’ habits have changed. In addition, donors have also changed their ways. They’ve gotten very comfortable staying home. Many donors are out of the habit of getting dressed in outside clothes and heading out for coffee or lunch. 

Many are more reluctant to attend big group events. Older donors, in particular, seem more reluctant than ever to meet in person.

Difficult to schedule ahead. Even more, the continued pandemic makes it very difficult to schedule anything ahead of time. It’s become almost impossible to schedule a large event with certainty. Most organizations are in a wait-and-see mode, postponing many gatherings. When this happens, you might be losing touch with some of your most loyal donors. 

What’s Working Now? Direct Conversations with Donors. 

We are finding that the traditional direct conversations we have with donors still can work miracles. You can close major and principal gifts by following a well-worn path that we’ve been teaching in major gifts training for years. 

What do we mean by a Direct Conversation? It’s a simple, forthright conversation with a donor specifically about THEM – their values and what they deeply care about.

It’s important to note that it’s not a presentation about your institution’s vision or plans. Even more, the Direct Conversation is not a pitch for the donor to make a gift. 

Instead, Direct Conversation is based on conversational inquiry. You are gently inquiring – asking the donor questions to find out where they stand. Where are their passions? What are they excited about and why? 

Here’s a secret: with the right questions in a Direct Conversation, you can fan the flames of a donor’s passion simply by letting them talk. The more your donor goes on and on about their deepest interests, the more excited they can get. They can literally talk themselves into saying “I really want to help.” 

Remember, she who asks the questions controls the conversation!

Follow this path and you can raise transformational gifts – now. 

Even though our ways of working are completely upended, we can still secure mega, transformational gifts by focusing specifically on our donors and what THEY want to accomplish in the world. 

I can assure you that every single donor who makes a major, principal, or transformational gift, has a very specific result they are trying to create. 

They have a vision for their philanthropy, and they know what they want to achieve. Even more, they want to talk about it and let you know every little detail of their philanthropic vision. 

Then, as a next step, it’s really easy to say, “Would you like to know how you can help

Bingo. If the donor says yes, you are instantly in a gift conversation. 

Bottom Line: Transformational gifts are there. Right now. Just have a Direct Conversation with your donor to open the door to a gift conversation.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your 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.