Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

One Simple Way To Keep Your Major Gift Program On Track

July 28th, 2014 by Karen Climer

I believe that the number one reason that organizations don’t raise enough money is that they don’t ask enough.  It’s not the economy.  It’s not the apathetic board members.  It’s not that there are too many competing organizations.  It’s that the members of the organization are not asking often enough.  That doesn’t mean sending more letters or holding more events.  It means getting in front of people and personally asking them for a gift.

In Amy Eisenstein’s book, 50 A$ks In 50 Weeks, she suggests scheduling a meeting every week with the development team.  If you are a one-person shop, it should be you and the executive director.  If the executive director is the development department, then the meeting is with the board president.  (Conference calls are OK.  Email correspondence does not constitute a meeting.)  The meeting has only two agenda items:

  • What ask did we make last week and how did it go?
  • What asks are coming up?  What do we need to do to prepare?  Who is going to ask?

Don’t add to the agenda.  Don’t discuss the logistics of the golf tournament.  Don’t review the acknowledgement plan.  This is all about the face-to-face asks.  If you need to talk about anything else, schedule a separate meeting.  This keeps personal asks at the forefront, which is exactly where they need to be.

Posted in Asking, Major Gifts

One Response

  1. Ward

    I agree. Face-to-face meetings are the #1 way to get a major gift (or a planned gift) commitment. There are donor prospects out there who don’t need a lot of cultivation and will make a significant gift even if a development officer doesn’t make an in-person visit, but this is usually the exception and not the rule. Getting in front of a prospect in a one-on-one setting is crucial because it allows the prospect to witness the enthusiasm that the development professional has for the organization and it helps for both parties to develop a strong rapport. But, the key is to ASK. If you don’t ask, then you are not going to realize your organization’s full fundraising potential.

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