The Pre-Emptive Gift

Have you ever set out to ask a donor for a gift, you set everything up perfectly, have a great solicitation plan, and then you go to ask them for their gift and they offer you a smaller gift before you can ask? Or maybe your donor tells you I’m just going to give this don’t worry about coming out and asking me?

We want donors to be giving on their own accord but especially for our major and lead gifts (and especially during a specific campaign) we want to be able to present them the whole picture first.  Some donors do this because we take too long to ask.  But most donors do this because they want to get out of giving a larger gift.

What do you do in this situation?  How do you respond to a pre-emptive gift?  Start by acknowledging and thanking them for the gift.  Then explain to them that you came to ask for a gift of X and we wanted to talk with you about how a gift of Y can make a difference in your organization.  I hope you’ve done good research and know what you are asking them for.  If that is the case, don’t let their gift stop you from following through with what you intended to do.  But don’t ignore the gift that they just gave either.  I’ve heard stories of people that have responded with, “Thank you for the payment of the first installment of your multi-year pledge.”

Another technique that I have used with pre-emptive gifts is explain why a solicitation is important.  If you are talking to multiple board members then it is important that each board member have this experience before they talk to another board member.  If it is because you have a very specific request let them know you have a specific program that you want to talk with them about.

Have you had a donor give or try and give a pre-emptive gift?  What did you do in that situation?  How did the donor respond?


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