Tag Archives: solicitation

Local leaders in Washington are driven to give more, give to their passion and give locally

The Washington Post, along with many other newspapers across the country, continues to use November as its annual opportunity to explore philanthropy and giving in the community.  In today’s Business Section I read a great article that profiled 11 leaders from various fields here in the Greater Washington, DC region.  (Yes, I actually read the paper; I still get the print edition!)  It asked each of the leaders some frank questions about their giving, such as how much did they give, had the focus of their philanthropy changed recently, how they set their priorities and how they gauged impact.  It was very enlightening, both in the thoughtfulness of their responses, but also in the general similarity of their responses.

Many of them either had kept or actually increased their giving during the economy.  Most were focused on “safety net” issues, but not all. Some did remind readers that arts and culture organizations need funding as well.   Many emphasized the importance of giving locally, of helping those in their own home communities or the communities in which their employees/customers worked.  And the importance of demonstrated impact continued to crop up as an important factor in their decision to support various organizations.  These are all themes we hear repeated again and again, but it was encouraging to see such a diverse range of community leaders reinforce them in such a way.

So what’s the lesson here?

Nonprofits – are you paying attention?  You want to know what’s motivating donors to give?  Here it is right here!  Go read this article.

Get into the habit of being in regular conversation with your donors, especially your major donors.  Fundraisers should be able to link their ask to a donor’s passion.  And the only way we’re going to know that is by listening.  “Why do you feel so strongly about helping others in need?”  “Why is it so important to you to help our local community stay vibrant and strong?”  If you look at the questions posed in The Post article, you should have a general answer for each of those questions for each of your top-level donors.  Imagine the tailored impact you could have, the truly meaningful conversations that could take place if you understood what was driving your donors!

Have a look.  What lessons do you take away from this piece?  Let us know what you think.

The Washington Post – On Giving 2011

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It’s giving guide season!

It’s November.  That means it’s the season for holiday giving guides and spotlights on philanthropy.

This month, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, in partnership with the United Way of the National Capital region and Razoo , hosted the very first Give to the Max for the Washington Area.  It was a tremendous success, with more than 17,000 people participating, resulting in more than $2 million in contributions to hundreds of organizations.  The event energized many nonprofits to get creative, especially in areas of social media.  Among those, For the Love of Children (FLOC) raised nearly $87,000 in that single day, and Little Lights Urban Ministries made their mark by bringing in 729 donors through the event.

Late in October, the 2011-2012 edition of the Catalogue for Philanthropy was released.  This compendium of nonprofits from throughout the Washington, DC area serving a wide range of constituencies provides interested donors a highly targeted mechanism through which they can participate in thoughtful philanthropy.   Other publications such as the Charity Choices DC-Area Guide, and the Post 200 spotlight on charities and associations on November 7th, all bring the needs and accomplishments of the nonprofit sector to the attention of the general public.

These are just a few of the many lists and publications that are out now to help donors make wise decisions.  The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has released its fall/holiday 2011 “Wise Giving” guide, which is focused on social media.  Charity Navigator, which has come out with a revised system of rating nonprofits, has also released its annual Holiday Giving Guide.

Is your nonprofit using these portals and guides as ways to learn about donor behavior?  Are you using these sites to promote your nonprofit’s work?

Take time to find out how your nonprofit can benefit from promoting thoughtful philanthropy.

 

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Podcast of June 9 Extra Credit Session available

The podcast from the June 9, 2010 Extra Credit session, “Just Tell Me What You Want – Answers to the Unexpected Things Prospects Say” is now available.  This was the first in a series of free teleconference training sessions offered by the firm and presented by Marshall H. Ginn, CFRE.

Click on the link below for the handout that was used during the 30-minute presentation.  For more information on the session and for additional resources, visit the Extra Credit page on the firm’s website.

PDF Handout – JuneExtraCreditHandout

MP3 Audio File – 060910ExtraCredit

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Be Ready with an “Emergency” Ask

Picture this.  Your prospect is a very busy business leader. You’ve arranged a pre-solicitation meeting and you were sure that everyone understood that this was just going to be an opportunity to talk about the project, the need and the campaign.  About 2/3 of the way through the meeting, the prospect says, “This sounds really terrific, but I am leaving town for several weeks to oversee the opening of a new office facility across the country, so there will be no way that I can do a site visit.” 

It’s dawning on you that you’re not going to be able to see this prospect face-to-face for a long time, and she was rated as one of your top prospects.  You don’t want to waste this opportunity.  What happens now?

Even when you thought it was just going to be a cultivation visit you might need to quickly formulate an “emergency” ask.

When it comes right down to it, getting some form of ask out there might be better than nothing.  If you think an encounter like this is turning into your only or best shot at getting something from this prospect, go for it.

Now I’m calling it an “emergency” ask, but it really is something that you should have prepared in advance.  Take the time to practice this ahead of time.  If you need to make your emergency ask, you should be able to do it with confidence and without apologies.  Further, if you are going on a solicitation call with another person as part of a team, make sure you discuss this ahead of time.  Agree in advance who will say what, especially if the prospect goes off on a tangent or just cuts to the chase and asks for an ask, or as in this case, makes it clear that she’s not going to be around.

Here are some other possible responses…remember, you should make up one that feels natural for you.  So when the prospects says, “Just tell me what you want.” You can say:

“This effort is going to require meaningful stretch gifts from us all, and I hope you will agree that this project is critical.  I’ve gone the extra mile already, which is why I’m taking the time to talk to folks like you.  What I would like is for you to consider joining me in making a sacrificial gift to this campaign.”

“Thanks for being open to an ask already, but this capital campaign is very big project, and there’s more I want you to see before we get to that.  However, we would really appreciate your getting involved now as a donor to our ongoing programs.  Can we count on you today for a major donor level gift to the Annual Fund?” Make sure you include a specific $$ amount.

“We would like you to join the other community leaders who’ve already shown their support by making a gift to this campaign.  I know you care deeply about this issue, and I want to make sure you have the opportunity to play a part.  Can we count on you today to do something special?” 

Additionally, depending on which of these you might have used, you could simply follow up by suggesting a clear course of action for the prospect.  “Tell me what works best with your schedule.  Here are the next steps I see…First, visit our facility; second, meet with our CEO and third, consider financial commitment. Do you agree?  Are there other steps you want to take?   How do I best set these things up and communicate with you?”  Assume that there are going to be future contacts of some sort, and go from there. But be sure to suggest some form of action.

So don’t be afraid and don’t freeze up when all of sudden the script has to be tossed and you just need to get something in front of the donor.  Practice ahead of time and have that emergency ask in your back pocket.

This topic is one that we explored in “Just Tell Me What You Want: Answers to the Unexpected Things Prospects Say,” which was part of Extra Credit, a teleconference I hosted earlier this month.  Many of the participants agreed that taking the time to think through how we can respond when prospects go off-script and surprise us is well worth it.

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New Info Resource for AFP Members

I’ve written two pieces for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Information Exchange series.  The Information Exchange is designed to leverage the knowledge and experience of thousands of AFP members around the world.  Writers submit short papers on a variety of subjects.  The Information Exchange pieces focus on practical, “how-to” topics that can help fundraising professionals in their daily work.  The Information Exchange papers are available to AFP members at no charge as a member benefit.

The two papers recently posted are Talking About Your Own Gift and Those of Others – Including a Handy List of 12 “Ask Phrases” and Engaging Your Colleagues to Become Part of the Fundraising Team

While these papers are normally only available to AFP members, if you contact me directly at Capital Development Strategies, I can send you a copy.  However, if you are a fundraising professional, I highly encourage you to join AFP.  It’s worth the investment!

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Questions from donors – Are you ready with answers?

Donors have choices – lots of them.

Your organization is probably one of dozens that members of your community will hear from in the coming weeks.  Are you doing all that you can to set yourself apart from the “competition?”  Are you giving your potential donors the resources they need to make an informed choice?

Charity Navigator advocates that all potential donors take the time to ask charities questions about their programs, mission, and goals before they decide to support them. To help potential donors in this task, they have developed a list of questions that donors should ask before they begin the act of supporting a charity.

Regardless of what you might think about Charity Navigator – and I know many people struggle with the limitations of their rating system – these questions provide organizations a very helpful tool that can enhance their donor cultivation strategies. 

If you are an executive director, director of development, board member or other solicitor, are you prepared with answers to these or similar questions?  You know this is the advice being given to potential donors out there; change your approach to align your message with these issues.  Be ready to respond to the donor’s needs, not simply return to your organization’s pre-determined script. 

It’s like taking an exam when you were in school…except this time you know the questions ahead of time!

Here is an excerpt from Charity Navigator’s “6 Questions to Ask Charities Before Donating:”

  1. Can your charity clearly communicate who they are and what they do?
    If a charity struggles in articulating its mission and its programs, it will probably struggle in delivering those programs. If a charity can’t explain who it is and what it does, and why it is needed, find one that can. The stakes are too high and too many good organizations exist who know exactly who they are, what they do, and why they are needed.
  2. Can your charity define their short-term and long-term goals?
    Organizations without quantifiable goals have no way to measure success. If they have no way to know if they are successful, how can you be sure they are working toward something? Demand that your charity tell you what it is trying to do. Good organizations relish this opportunity.
  3. Can your charity tell you the progress it has made (or is making) toward its goal?
    Once again, it’s not enough to merely be concerned with a problem. Ask your organization what it has done to make the issue it confronts better. What are its results? You wouldn’t buy a brand of toothpaste if the manufacturer couldn’t prove to you that it fought cavities successfully. Why should you support an environmental clean-up organization if it can’t show you that it is cleaning up the environment?
  4. Do your charity’s programs make sense to you?
    If you support the mission of an organization, ask yourself if its programs also make sense. You believe in the cause, and you hope for the end result, but is the organization working toward that result in a way that seems rational and productive to you?
  5. Can you trust your charity?
    Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of charities in this country are not only responsible and honest, but well-managed. So we give with confidence. You should feel the same way before you give. Don’t support a charity until you feel comfortable with it. A happy and trusting donor is a willing and supportive donor.
  6. Are you willing to make a long-term commitment to your organization?
    We like to think of giving to charity as a long-term commitment, more akin to marriage than dating. Intelligent giving is motivated by altruism, knowledge, and perspective, not a knee-jerk reaction to a television commercial. Ask yourself if your charity is the type of organization to which you’re willing to make a long-term commitment. When you do this, you agree to support them through good times and bad, and provide the funding it needs to weather economic downturns. In return, it promises to continue working toward addressing the issue you both think is so vital.

Charity Navigator

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