What Are Your Intentions?

Let your prospects know what direction you are going. Is your intention to build a relationship that will bring money to the organization or do you see your prospects as community connectors? When making an introduction, do you set any expectations as to how the conversation will go? It cuts down on the number of uninterested people you talk with if they have an idea of why you’re having a conversation with them.

Before a cultivation appointment I will often let donors know that I want to learn a little bit more about their connection with the organization and what caused them to make their first gift. If it is a stewardship appointment, I’ll let them know that I want to thank them for their gift. And, if it is a solicitation, I will let them know I’d like to talk with them about making a gift. It seems to me that people don’t like being surprised.

This has become more difficult when I have applied this same process to donor acquisition. When talking with someone who does not have any relationship with the organization they do not want to meet if I tell them I want to talk with them about the organization. I’ve found that it is valuable to find some kind of value-add that I can provide to them even if it is just a conversation about the needs in our community. With these individuals, if they do not have a link to the organization, we are their very best connection point. If they enjoy talking with us, they will be more motivated to engage in the organization.

How do you frame the conversations you schedule with your donors? What do you say to new donor prospects?

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One Response to What Are Your Intentions?

  1. As a communications professional recently completing a certificate in nonprofit management, here is my perspective. Since these are basically acquisition inquiries, try and think of “hooks” that might grab their attention. For example, talk a little bit about the good work your organization has done in the community which indirectly benefits them (if applicable). Or perhaps cite some statistics about the severity of the problem or issue your agency is addressing, to create a sense of urgency. Finally, if and when you get to the stage of “making the ask,” try and frame solcitation requests as an investment in an organization providing tangible benefits to the community. You are not begging; you are asking for help in carrying out an important humanitarian mission. Of course this will not work with everyone, but I think the nonprofit sector as a whole would do a lot better if more people were more comfortable asking for gifts.

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