There are plenty of people who have a great deal of money who never have and never will make a donation. At the same time, there are some who have the disposable income and give because of their belief in a nonprofit’s mission and how they’re making a difference for real people.
That’s why it’s logical that you should never ask for a big gift until you’re sure that the donor knows your mission, understands what you’re trying to accomplish with his or help , and has fully bought into your plan.
Visiting with potential high—end donors, well in advance of any ask, is a great way to get the ball rolling.
You’ve probably heard this before: “If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money.” How true! When you ask people for advice or their feedback on an issue, you engage them in thinking about your project. Once they are engaged they are much more likely to give you money.
Find out what they really think
Have the fortitude to ask your donors how they really feel about your mission, your organization, and your project. If you do, don’t be surprised at how many will tell you in blunt terms. And that should be ok with you. It’s how you learn. Make sure you encourage them to be as open and honest as possible for the best results.
Never leave a donor meeting without having a reason to meet again
Real relationships aren’t built based on one meeting, are they? They’re built over time. That’s when trust is earned. Leave every advice visit with a reason to get back in touch.
Offer to send additional information, schedule a meeting with someone else from your organization, or send them something you’d like them to review for you. And if a donor asks a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t panic and don’t worry. You’ve just been given a great opportunity to get back in touch with them with the answer to their question.
Great advice questions
“What do you think about…?”
“How do you think we can make this a reality…?”
“Who do you think should be involved in this project…?
Notice that each of the questions starts with three words: who, how, and what.
When you start questions with one of these three words, you’ll get a more fully-developed response that just yes or no.
Ask donors for their perspective; everyone has one. Ask them how to solve a problem related to their field of interest or expertise. And you can always ask for their feedback on various aspects of your campaign, like a draft of your case for support, potential steering committee members or fundraising strategies.
The Big 4 when it comes to advice meetings
Don’t bore your donors.
Keep meetings short. Thirty to forty-five minutes seems to work best.
Listen more than you talk. If you listen, you may be bored, but the donor won’t be. 😊
Follow up promptly.
Have you gone on advice visits? What sort of advice might you ask your donors for on your next visit?