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Question: Bridgett asks, “How do I ask current donors (who have given faithfully over the years) about raising money for unrestricted needs?”
Answer: I noticed in the question that the donor will not accept a visit. At this point, all you have to rely on is phone or email communication. I would take this a step further. Ease into the conversation. You can do this two ways: invite them to your event, or see which events and fundraisers they are attending around town. This method has worked for me. When they ask you what is new, TELL THEM. Faithful donors are more apt to listen. Since they won't accept a visit, easing them into the conversation works much better.
Question: Lisa asks, “How do I get the first meeting with a prospect?”
Answer: I recently did a webinar for Bloomerang discussing how to get a seat at the table. Do your due diligence. Do your research on the prospect. It's interesting that it takes so much prep to get a seat at the table that the meeting itself is sometimes the easiest part. Prospect research involves getting to know your prospect, their affiliations, giving history, connections with your current board members, etc. After that, you can invite them to your latest fundraiser or event, or on an organized tour. I usually don't prefer cold calling or cold emailing. The relationship must be built, not rushed. The goal is long term donors.
Question: Rose asks, “How do I develop the conversation with a potential donor?”
Answer: This all goes back to easing the donor into the conversation. Unless you have some sort of connection or were referred by a board member, for example, the conversation cannot consist only of making the ask. The conversation can start with an email to which you have attached your latest newsletter. (If you do not regularly send a newsletter, please consider doing so. It is a powerful tool and gives the donor a snapshot of your organization. You can send the letter twice per month, or once a month, but just be consistent.) Always give the potential donor more than they expect. Does your research reveal that they are an alumnus of a university that one of your board members attended? Do they have a history of giving to causes related to your mission? Be sure to mention the connection in your conversation. This is the type of small talk you want to have.
Question: Jaye asks, "I am almost 6 months in as the Director of Development for my nonprofit. We just had our biggest fundraising event a couple of weeks ago and one of the donors in my portfolio gave $10,000. He is going to meet with me for the first time on Thursday. My supervisor is pushing me to talk about making another ask at this first meeting but I think that educating this donor is of upmost importance at this stage. Is there a nice compromise to talk about an ask and also educating my donor on our first meeting? Answer: You are right to educate the donor on your programs, initiatives and services. If I were in your position, I would not make another Ask. If it is mandatory, I would ask the donor if they would consider being a recurring donor in the future. You're still asking, which fulfills the directive from your boss, and your not pressuring your donor to give again.
Do you have a question? Submit your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question and first name (or an alias at your request) will be posted on the blog.