Asking For The Major Gift – Part 2 of 3

Sections of this topic

    Raising money from wealthy people is not the same as asking buddies at work to kick in a few bucks or selling cookies. The size of the gifts expected in those cases is rather small and not a lot of cultivation goes into the process.

    People who are major gift prospects have (more than likely) been asked before. They know what the process entails and they are expecting to be asked. If they didn’t want to be part of the process, they would likely have made that clear at some point.

    So, we come back to the question of how to ask for the gift.

    Let me first give an example of phrasing that SHOULD NEVER be part of the Ask: “Anything/any amount you can give would really help!!”

    The Ask must be for a specific dollar figure. It must be for an amount that (both solicitor and donor will know) will make possible one or more specific activities or programs that are essential to the mission of the NPO and will provide specific types of help to a particular constituency. It must also be a gift amount that will have an end result desired by the donor – helping a specific group of people and/or having his/her name prominently displayed.

    It’s usually a question of credibility. When it becomes time for the Ask, the cultivator/solicitor and the prospective donor (should) have had a number of conversations about the NPO’s plans/programs/financial needs and/or the donor’s needs as relates to the NPO.

    The prospect has been evaluated, and the total amount of money to be raised (the goal) for the current fiscal year (or for a specific project) has been determined by a development planning process that “relies on” receipt of a specific number of gifts at specific dollar amounts.

    In addition, and just as important, the prospect already knows (as a result of those conversations, noted above) what it will take to make “it” happen. The Ask is not just for a dollar amount; it is for a specific dollar amount that is needed to ensure the creation/enhancement of a program/activity/service and/or the naming of a program or a (part of a) building.

    To ask for any amount less than what will do the job is to say that all the preceding conversations have been nothing but hot air, that there’s not really an important need to be satisfied and people to be helped, that the NPO and the cultivator/solicitor aren’t to be taken seriously !!

    Watch for Part 3 of this topic – This Friday

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, I’ll be pleased to answer your questions. Contact me at
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