We’re right in the midst of the Major Gifts Challenge. If you’re unfamiliar with the Challenge, check out the introductory video here!
Religion and politics may be traditional taboos for conversation, but let’s be honest, asking for money is, for most, the hardest conversation.
You have your list of best prospective donors. You’ve cultivated relationships. You’ve gotten to know their interests and their motivations for giving.
It’s time to ask them for a gift.
You just don’t feel ready to ask. You’re afraid of the conversation.
That’s okay — it’s a common feeling.
Feeling Unsure of Yourself is Common
You may feel unsure you’ve gotten to know them well enough. You wonder if you’ve done enough research about your donor. You may also question if they’re ready to give.
The fact is, if you’re new to raising major gifts, you’ll never feel ready.
Fortunately it’s not about nerves or feeling, it’s about facts.
You’ve followed your cultivation plan, reached out on several occasions, met at least once in person for a meaningful conversation, and provided them with opportunities to volunteer and take a tour. They’re the facts. Now it’s time to request a meeting to ask them for a gift.
Your organization needs the money now. The donor could be wondering what’s next?
It’s time to ask.
If you’re asking for your annual fund, you need to ask within 12 months. If this is their first major gift to your organization, it’s not a mega gift, or the ultimate gift, so the pressure’s off.
It’s time to ask.
No more excuses!
A Great Way to Crush Your Discomfort
Here’s a story of overcoming the fear of asking.
I was coaching an ED on asking. She was really uncomfortable. She knew she needed to ask donors for money. It was the last thing on earth she wanted to do.
I suggested she tell donors outright about her discomfort. We settled on this approach. She would tell them:
- she absolutely hated fundraising
- she was completely out of her comfort zone even having a conversation about money
- the clients were too important for her not to ask.
So, while she hated having to do it, she was going to ask.
This approach actually took the discomfort out of the room for all parties involved.
Remember, your donors could be nervous too. They might be uncomfortable being asked.
When you acknowledge the awkwardness head on, then everyone can relax and feel better.
Shift Your Focus Away from the Money
Once the discomfort level drops, try to shift your focus away from the money. Instead of focusing on a dollar amount, talk about the clients and the cause.
Instead of asking for $10,000, ask if they would like to support three families or help cure a disease … whatever your cause. Guide the conversation and your request toward supporting your organization’s mission.
When you do that, the conversation can easily turn to how much that support would cost in the form of a gift.
You have the facts to overcome the feelings. You have a strategy to confront your fear.
It’s time to ask.
Challenge Yourself Action Item
Step 1: Identify two people to ask.
If you haven’t already done so, select two people you have worked through their cultivation plan that you think are ready to be asked. (You may have already done this step from the previous video in the Major Gifts Challenge.)
Step 2: Call them up and schedule a time to ask.
Before you call, think about what you will say and how you will ask for your meeting, including language about being uncomfortable asking. Putting it out there will put everyone at ease.
During the ask meeting itself, you can use this same language about being uncomfortable to diffuse the discomfort. And remember to focus on obtaining support for your cause, not on the money.
Going Further with Major Gifts
In my 7-week online course, Mastering Major Gifts, I provide specific language to help you practice and hone your asking skills and improve your comfort levels even further. If you’re eager to bring in 5, 6 and even 7-figure major gifts, you owe it to yourself to check out Mastering Major Gifts and see what the curriculum has to offer you.
Act, Comment and Participate
Now it’s your turn to share your progress with the Major Gifts Challenge.
How have you asked for an “ask meeting” before? What has worked and not worked? What language will/did you use?
Let me know about your experiences with requesting a meeting to ask in the comments.
And remember — it’s time to ask!