My latest interview brought me to Kent Stroman, president of the Institute for Conversational Fundraising.
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Watch the full interview above or read the highlights below.
What is High Stakes Asking?
AE: We are going to talk about the keys to success in high stakes asking. So, what is High Stakes Asking?
KS: We ask lots of questions, the answer to which doesn’t have any consequence. Like, “what you’d think about last night’s ballgame?” Or, “what do you think about tomorrow’s weather forecast?” Either way, the answer doesn’t much matter.
When I think about high stakes asking, there’s some consequence that goes with it.
For me, an example of High Stakes Asking is when I asked a man for his daughter’s hand in marriage … Asking for a job, asking for a promotion, or in our line of work, asking for a really large contribution.
AE: Of course, we’re not really asking for the contribution, but to help cure a disease, or help solve homelessness, or clean the environment, or provide art. That’s high stakes!
KS: The consequences are great. So, when we are making that high stakes ask, we approach it differently than we do about the weather or yesterday’s ball game.
We need to start with our definition of “what is success?”
Old school success is … I get what I want
Our approach is very different. We say success is helping the other party make a well-informed decision.
Understanding the Donor’s Objectives
On the other hand, if I can work with a prospective funder to understand what are their objectives, what do they want to accomplish philanthropically? What would be the involvement that would bring the most delight to the donor?
AE: I love that, because so often we do think if we get the gift, that’s success. But if the donor isn’t happy, and we haven’t fulfilled their mission, then there’s a serious disconnect. How are you building a lifetime relationship, looking at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th gifts?
KS: I like to think about what’s going to happen with the prospect after our meeting. If I get that reluctant gift, or “go-away” money, what’s the conversation going to be like with them at their next cocktail party?
Watch the full interview for more words of wisdom from Kent.
Now it’s your turn to join the conversation…
What do you think of High Stakes Asking? How will you raise funds differently as a result?
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