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10 Tips for major gift solicitors


6. The Meeting

Take a few minutes to break the ice and to establish a comfortable environment. Introduce yourself and those with you, through your involvement and comitment to the organization and the services it provides. In a concise manner, share with the prospect the value of the organization and what it has accomplished. Refer to the Points of Pride....Emphasize the opportunities for the future based on the new vision and strategic plan for expansion or further development of the organization. Discuss the importance of their participation in addition to their financial support. Your organization needs their advice, expertise, identification of new leadership and introduction to other prospective donors. Once you have shared your enthusiasm about the project and demonstrated the needs, it is time to request the gift.

7. Ask

Using the number that was agreed upon during the rating session, (see item #1) the request can be introduced as follows: "We would appreciate if you would consider a gift of $ ___________ to the campaign." (If there are significant projects/or programs which need to be funded at the level of the request, mention the one or two which you think would appeal to the prospective donor.) PAUSE: Once you have asked for the gift, it is time to be silent and let the prospect respond with questions or other comments. There is no need ever to apologize for asking for a gift. The individuals you are approaching expect you to ask, have likely been asked before by many organizations and have, at times, been solicitors themselves.

8. Questions, Objections and Dialogue

Answer the questions as best you can but do not get into a debate. If you are unsure as to how to properly answer a specific question, tell the prospect you will find out the answer and get back to them or have one of the staff provide them with the details. (Make sure you or staff follow up promptly.) If the donor offers a gift significantly lower than what was requested, you can supportively ask if, by spreading the gift over time, could it be more significant, or if it is structured as a deferred gift, with certain tax benefits, would they consider a larger amount? Do not press if they indicate that what they had offered is the limit to what they want to do.

Thank them as enthusiastically as possible and ask them to complete the pledge card. If they indicate that they want some time to think about it and discuss it with others, thank then for their consideration and request a specific time when you can get back to them for a response. Think of yourself as an enthusiastic salesperson ... you are not "begging". Make sure that you are a good listener as well as a good presenter.

Let your prospect know how important their support is to the campaign and ask them if they can introduce you to others who may also be interested in your important work.

Once the gift is closed, stress the importance of your organizations need for cash by the end of the year. Thank them and have them complete the pledge card.

9. Follow Up

Make sure that appropriate staff and/or leadership are briefed on your solicitation, any new leads, and that there are follow-up communications thanking the prospect ... even if a gift was not made. A handwritten thank you, from the individual who initially set up the appointment and/or was the solicitor, in addition to whatever is sent officially by the organization, is always appreciated. Solicitations should be a positive experience for the prospect. A successful solicitation can set the stage for future involvement. An unsuccessful solicitation can turn off a donor to the campaign as well as to future potential for support.

10. Summary

Keep in mind that people are more likely to contribute to make dreams happen than to solve problems. Success equals connecting the donor to the organization in their heart first and only then, ... through their pockets.


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