The act of asking for large gifts is often more anxiety-ridden than making cold calls. Your major donor prospects are familiar with your organization and have already supported your cause in some way. The stakes can feel pretty high when raising the topic of large monetary contribution because you need to protect an existing relationship while doing so.
Give them time
Reaching out to your high-capacity supporters doesn’t have to be an elusive process if you know some rules of thumb. The most important thing you can do is prepare your audience. Your prospective donors need a chance to think through their giving decisions, according to nonprofit expert Gail Perry. If they’re caught off guard with an unprompted ask, they could feel pressured and close the door to the possibility of future donations.
Let them decide
The best way to initiate a discussion is to send an email or make a phone call inviting a prospect to an in-person meeting. The notes and giving histories recorded in your donation management database can help you decide which donors to call.
To break the ice, simply ask if they’re ready to speak with your CEO or board director to consider further support of your organization. This is a pretty clear way of saying that the purpose of the meeting is to ask for a gift; it enables them to collect their thoughts and ask questions, said Nonprofit Hub. If they accept the meeting, they’ll be fully prepared to engage in the conversation.
If your prospects aren’t ready to make a large donation, they can politely decline the invitation. This way, they won’t be stuck in the potentially embarrassing position of rejecting your CEO’s request. Even when donors say no, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to give. Often, it’s a matter of timing. If you respect their space, they’ll come to you when they’re ready.
On this note, a prospective donor may want to know how large a gift your CEO plans to ask for. If you have a good idea of the amount, it’s perfectly all right to disclose it. Again, this gives your potential supporter the agency to accept or decline the meeting. Even if they can’t give currently, it leaves room for later possibilities.
Whether a prospect accepts or declines a meeting, make sure to acknowledge their involvement in your cause. Send them an earnest letter to thank them for their time and consideration, so you can continue fostering a strong relationship.
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