Major Gifts Making the Ask

Pick up the phone!

Major gifts are all about building personal relationships with prospective major donors. So…

 If your inclination is to write a letter -> Pick up the phone.

 If your inclination is to print a brochure -> Pick up the phone.

 If your inclination is to send an email -> Pick up the phone.

 If your inclination is to produce a newsletter -> Pick up the phone.

 If your inclination is to slice your donor database every which way -> Pick up the phone.

 If your inclination is to have a staff meeting (you really hate picking up the phone).

 You need to meet with your prospects. 

Practice works!

If the thought of picking up the phone and setting up a meeting (and that’s all you want to do on the phone—set up a meeting) gives you angst, take away the pressure. Put your major gift prospects aside and practice on three mid-tier donors who have been supporting you for several years. Select any three. Pick up the phone and make an appointment.  No expectations. These are practice visits. Your only objectives are to:

  • Thank the donor for his or her support (that’s easy).
  • Learn more about the donor (ask questions and listen).
  • Conclude the meeting with an announced follow-up plan (which may be anything from, “Thank you for taking the time. It’s so valuable to meet with our supporters and find out first hand what they are thinking. We look forward to your continued support” to agreement on a follow-up step, e.g., “So I’ll call you next week with the answer to that question.  Is mid-week a good time?” 
  • Record your notes from the meeting.

If these “practice donors” ask you if you are meeting with them to ask for money, you can honestly say, “no.”  And once you say “no” to these “practice donors” or anyone else, do NOT make an “ask” during the visit.

 Get comfortable meeting with your donors. 

 You may even find that you enjoy it!

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