Major Gift Series #9: Romancing the Ask – 6 Steps To a Perfect Major Gift Ask

Here’s the last in our series of 9 topics to help you raise many generous major gifts for your cause.

Fundraising always comes down to asking, doesn’t it?

“The Ask” is something we study, prep for, script, dream about, love and sometimes avoid.

In our 2019 Major Gift Coaching Program, we teach a different, much more donor-centered approach to the ask. Believe it or not, this approach has inspired some donors to literally offer money to our nonprofits – without a formal ask!

If you and your team are interested in achieving many more major gifts, our 2019 Major Gifts Coaching closes for applications tomorrow for the rest of the year. Join us!

Here are the six steps that will lead you to a “yes” every time you ask:

1. Identify the Right Prospect to Approach.

Is this person really a good, qualified prospect, or are you just hoping that they are?

Don’t spend your time with someone unless you are certain this person has the capacity and interest to make a major gift. That’s a tall order. Does your donor have:

  • Giving potential?
  • A strong level of interest?
  • Are they likely to give at this level?

Qualifying your prospects is an art. Be willing to do a realistic, honest appraisal of where your donor rates in these categories.

Then you’ll be able to focus on those individuals who are passionate, enthusiastic, and most likely to give.

2. Identify Your Donor’s Hot Buttons, Interests and Passions.

Do your research well before you want to ask for the gift.

The more you know about your donor’s interests, passions, vision and track record, the better your chance of securing her support.

Don’t forget, the best way to do prospect research is by directly talking with your donor. Find out what she thinks about your organization, its leadership, and its vision.

Most importantly, what area of your organization is she most interested in? If you are a medical center, for example, she might be interested in children, in the emergency room or some other area.

If you are an environmental organization, she may care more about clean water than clean air. Find this out and listen to her story of why she is passionate about this particular part of your work.

3. Give Her Cultivation Experiences to Learn More About Her Favorite Topic.

She will enjoy so much learning more about her favorite area.

Remember, if you have a donor prospect who is enthusiastic and interested in your work, she probably has direct, personal experience with it. The emergency room may have saved her son’s life. Beautiful waterscapes may remind her of a happy childhood.

By all means, remember that a donor who is passionate about your work feels a heart connection. It’s emotional and powerful.

Bring her joy by taking her out into the field to learn more. Help her meet and talk with your program people who are working in this area every day. Listen to her personal story of her passion and interest!

4. Bring Up the Topic of a Gift and Ask for Permission.

“Would you like to know more about how you could help this area you love so much?”

I think it is as simple as that.

Put her in charge. She will probably say, “Yes, I’d like to know how I could help.”

5. Give her an Exciting Opportunity.

Give her three options for a possible investment, based on her area of interest. But make it into an exciting opportunity with a broad impact.

You could say,

  • “With $25k you could do this . .
  • “Or with $100k you could do this . . .
  • “And you could make a huge impact with a gift of xxxx. (make it a large number.)

Remember – the bigger your vision, the bigger your donor’s gift will be. A big bold vision inspires the greatest investments from donors.

Donors want to be part of something exciting.

They want to help create a better future. They want to help change or save lives. Make your project or cause exciting and full of impact.

6. After You Put the Options on the Table, Sit Quietly.

The donor is mulling over your idea and your request. She is probably thinking:

  • Can I do this?
  • Do I want to do this? Do I like this organization?
  • How can I do this?
  • Do I need to talk to my family or invest advisor?

Give your donor plenty of time to consider your request and DON’T SAY A WORD.

Remember the old saying: “He who speaks next, loses.”

Bottom Line: Here is a Gentle and Successful Approach to the Ask.

It’s kinder, gentler, more fun for both you and the donor. AND it’s more successful!