Tag Archives: solicitation

Nonprofit solicitation cycle

donateWhen is the right time to solicit a gift from a current donor? Do you send a letter once a year and hope for a gift? That’s one strategy. Some nonprofits believe it is a good one. Their logic: “we don’t want our donors to feel we’re always asking for a gift” Here’s our guidance: begin the solicitation process when you say “thank you.”

You want to create awareness, provide opportunities for engagement, report on your progress, and encourage donors to make additional gifts. Touch your donors with three solicitations throughout the year: two should occur before your year-end solicitation. Each donor should hear from you throughout the year, regardless of the size of their gift. Tailor your communication to meet their method of giving.

Here are 11 suggestions for your consideration.

  1. When you receive a gift send a thank you note and receipt within 48 hours.
  2. Take a moment to create a connection: depending on the size of the gift and the location of the donor follow up with a visit, phone call or personal email.
  3. Keep your donors informed. Send a progress report on the organization, your campaign and impact. Include photos and quotes. Share upcoming events and dates. Keep it short – make every word count. Send via U.S. mail or email. You can also post to social media, but don’t let that take the place of personalized communication.
  4. Extend an invitation to visit your facilities and see your programs in action. Invite donors by phone, or with an electronic or print invitation. Again, keep it personal.
  5. Encourage donors to become involved. Share information about one-time or ongoing volunteer opportunities. Be as personal as you can, inviting people to volunteer for programs or activities you believe are a match with their interests.
  6. When you have events take the time to send an invitation. Pick up the phone for an extra personal touch for long term supporters (regardless of gift size) and major donors.
  7. Send another progress report. Consider highlighting a specific program. Include a solicitation. Don’t worry – you are not “over asking.” People cannot give if you don’t give them an opportunity to support your work.
  8. If you haven’t yet made a personal call, have someone from your organization call to share information and provide an update.
  9. Send a “state of the organization” report. Written by the executive director, this is an annual review sharing the strengths, challenges and opportunities facing the organization. Go ahead, include a solicitation.
  10. In early November send out your year-end solicitation.
  11. Start the cycle again with thank you.

Think of this: 30% of this year’s donors may not give again next year. Can you afford that?

Thank you begins and ends the solicitation cycle for a nonprofit.

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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Summer Reading Can Increase Revenue in the Fall

Cynthia Hopson http://www.saadandshaw.comTo be the best, learn from the best – and in fundraising, Pearl Saad and her husband Melvin B. Shaw, have the creds to not just teach fundraising essentials but to literally “write the books” about it. In an updated version of The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts, first published in 2008, everything you need to know is laid out in this small but powerful compilation in the form of how to’s for the novice and gentle reminders for the veteran.

These amazing 33 pages are a quick but empowering read from an accomplished couple with more than 30 years of experience in innovative fund development, capital campaign research, planning, design and implementation. Topics covered include the language and philosophy of the “ask,” how to cultivate, honor, recognize and involve donors, preparing for solicitation visits, and the importance of personal and meaningful interaction with potentials.

As someone who has to inspire gifts and investment into my cause, (I manage The Black College Fund which supports the 11 United Methodist Church-related historically Black colleges and universities) I felt better prepared, even inspired to go out and “win friends and influence people” to share. While I never try to sell anything I don’t invest or believe in, their “It’s an honor to be selected as the person who asks others to give” philosophy was refreshing and empowering.  I am all the things listed in the title of their new book, Prerequisites for Fundraising Success, 18 Things Every Fundraising Professional, Board Member, or Volunteer Needs to Know, so reading it was a logical next step.

Prerequisites, is a homerun, slam dunk and a touchdown! Whether you’re trying to figure out which way is up or down, this is the book you want to get this year. “Fundraising is a competitive endeavor” was my favorite quote and if you are ill equipped for the competition, get this book and then proceed. They cover funding your fundraising, the importance of teamwork and commitment to the cause, and every chapter has a checklist and action steps to keep you on course. If you’re serious about improving your fundraising success, and who isn’t these days, this resource will be a blessing for everybody who goes out in your name to raise money. Fundraising is an art and a science and those who excel at it must understand the processes and intricacies that lead to success. Again, this roadmap will enable the newcomer and provide additional tools for the pro—either way, you’re bound to learn something new.

Pearl and Mel are consummate professionals and they continue to impress and amaze me with their creativity, insights and extensive knowledge of all things fund related. With these two books, they take comprehensive fundraising, development and management to a new and more accessible level. Both are available from their website, www.fundraisinggoodtimes.com, and are economical enough to get one for each team member.

Cynthia Bond Hopson, Ph.D., is an author and assistant general secretary of the United Methodist Church’s Black College Fund in Nashville, TN. chopson@gbhem.org

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Preparing to Ask for a Gift

Making the Ask-Part Two

Preparing to Ask for a Gift-Saad & Shaw

Fundraising provides nonprofits with the money they need to deliver on their missions. When you ask others to join you in giving you become part of the nonprofit’s success team.

In part one of this series we discussed how to prepare to solicit a gift. In this column we cover setting the appointment and what to say when asking.

Here’s what we believe: asking for a gift should be done in person whenever possible. Make an appointment to talk with your colleague, family member or friend about giving. Let’s use an example of asking Jesse for a gift. “Jesse, would you have time to meet with me about All In For Children? I am committed to working with them to raise money for their new programs and I want to share that information with you and explore how you would like to be involved.” All you want from the conversation is a time to meet. If Jesse says, “Oh, we don’t have to meet. Put me down for $100,” you can respond with, “I understand. Would you make some time for me just the same? You might want to give even more after we talk!” Keep the conversation light, but get that appointment.

As you prepare for your meeting, make sure you have brochures or online information you can share. Practice your presentation. You will want to talk about the organization’s history, current activities and vision for the future. You will also want to cover what specifically you are raising money for and how the money will be used. Be prepared to communicate using emotion and facts.  Talk about what the organization means to you and why you are involved.

During the solicitation be sure to ask for a specific, reasonable and challenging gift.  Know the amount you will ask for.  It shouldn’t be too small an amount, nor too large.  Remember to talk about the gift you made.  If your gift is similar to what you would like your prospect to give, state the amount you gave and why.

Always remember to make the ask. Be very clear and specific when asking: “Jesse, I would like for you to make a gift to All In For Children.  Would you be willing to contribute $___?”

Pause after you ask for the gift.  Do not rush to fill the silence.  Give Jesse time to respond, for he will. If he says “yes”, thank him and ask how he would like to make his gift. If he says “no”, ask what would be the right amount at this time. If Jesse says this is not the right time, ask what would be a good time. Regardless of the outcome, thank him for his time. After the meeting, send a thank you note.  You can do it! Your nonprofit depends on you.

Get all the details in “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” 

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

How to Solicit a Gift

Making the Ask – Part One

Money

How do you ask someone to make a gift to a nonprofit that you believe in? What do you say? When do you ask? What if the person says “yes?” What if she says “no?”

When it comes to soliciting a gift for a nonprofit here’s what you need to know. First off, if you are new to fundraising, it is natural – and healthy! – to feel a bit nervous. One way to reduce nervousness is to prepare and rehearse. Think about what might encourage a potential donor to give, and what his or her objections might be. Be prepared to overcome potential objections with information. And don’t worry – the most important thing is to ask. You can’t predict the response, but you can prepare your presentation. And, once you start getting a few “yeses” you may get addicted to fundraising: it is fun to secure resources for organizations and institutions you believe in.

Here are a few suggestions for getting started. First off, don’t work alone. If you are asked to solicit a gift for a nonprofit, college, or hospital ask who on the staff will work with you to get you prepared. When you meet with the staff person be sure to discuss who you should solicit. You may have several people in mind, the organization may also have a few people they would like for you to ask. In general, you should solicit people you know or have a relationship with.

You will want to learn about the relationship between the organization and the people you will be soliciting. For example, will you be soliciting current donors or volunteers, or people who don’t yet have a relationship with the nonprofit? You will want to know how much money the organization is seeking to raise in total, how much has already been raised, as well as what size gift you should ask your prospective donor to give. Make sure that you have access to printed and online information about the organization, its mission, vision, impact, programs and leadership. Ask for a brochure to take with you. Be sure you can communicate how the funds raised will be used. Ask as many questions as you feel the donor may have. It is most important that you are both knowledgeable about the organization and comfortable answering questions that may arise.

If you are new to fundraising, or feel uncomfortable making the ask, request that the staff person spend some time role playing with you. You may also want to accompany a staff person or more experienced volunteer or board member as they solicit a gift. This can help decrease any nervousness or discomfort you may feel.

Most importantly – make your own gift before you ask someone else to give!

Next week: details on what to say when soliciting a gift.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.