Making the Ask: Major Gifts
As a major gift officer, you have a portfolio of donors you need to cultivate and ultimately ask for a donation to your organization. How do you go about this?
Here are the tips on making the ask:
Do the Research
Research is essential to understanding the interests and giving capacity of your donor. Do not skip this step for donors who are already in your portfolio. Before a meeting, it is important to understand a donor’s passion for your organization’s mission.
Work with your Research team, if you have one, to get the most up to date information. You also want to be aware if circumstances change for your donor. Changes in life stages or major financial transactions can change capacity from ask to ask. Make sure you are as up to date as possible, so your ask amount is appropriate.
Get the Meeting
Getting a meeting for donors you have strong relationships with can be as simple as calling your donor and asking them to lunch. Other donors may prefer to have it scheduled with an assistant. Navigate this process with respect and honesty around the purpose of your conversation since major donors may have time constraints.
Given the current climate, consider if an in–person meeting is appropriate or if a donor would prefer a phone call or video conference. Being flexible is key.
It is also important to think about who is invited to this meeting. Will the amount you ask for require a spouse to also be involved in the decision-making process? Is there a natural partner you can invite to build credibility and excitement around a project? Having the right people “in the room” makes all the difference.
The key to a successful major gift officer is listening. You are there to learn more about your donor and provide the information about the opportunities to make a difference with your organization. Like any relationship, it’s important that they also can speak about what they are passionate about. Active listening is a great way to learn more about your donor for future conversations and to just get to know them
Ask, Then Wait
Tie your ask to your organization’s mission, explaining with success stories how donations help make that mission a reality. From there, you can make the ask.
Make sure to have a specific amount in mind when making the ask based on your research. This amount should look at giving capacity, current level of involvement in your organization, and donations the individual has given to other organizations.
Once you make the ask, it is important to allow the donor to think about your ask amount. This might be a moment of silence in your conversation. That is okay! Let the donor come back with a yes or a no. If you do hear no, find out the why. Their answer will help inform you for the next meeting or allow you to adjust your ask amount on the spot.
Thanking your donor is the most important thing you can do after receiving a contribution. Unique stewardship opportunities can give major donors a personalized experience with your organization and ultimately lead to more giving.
Making the ask doesn’t have to be complicated. It is all about cultivating relationships with your donors. Managing your portfolio through a CRM can be a great way to do this effectively. Check out Julep to learn about the Moves Management features for gift officers. Schedule a demo today!