Solicitation Pre-Knowledge?

June 22, 2011

When you schedule an ask are you always clear that you will be asking for money?

When I’m preparing and scheduling solicitations I find that it is a bit of an art in having the conversation about why I am looking to schedule time to talk with a donor. When it is someone that I know is aware of the process I find scheduling a solicitation to be less of a challenge. Sometimes I’ve found people will try and give a preemptive gift if I let them know that I’m planning on asking them for a contribution. But, I hate to fully surprise people as well so I’ve found it valuable to have everyone on the same page.

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What are Your Ice Breakers?

June 6, 2011

Everyone has special tricks to get the conversation started. Some people love the excitement of meeting new people and others dread it. What kinds of ice breakers do you use to start and sustain a conversation? Here are a few that I’ve tried; I’d love to add more to the list.

  • What first connected you to this organization?
  • Do you volunteer with other organizations around town?
  • Have you lived in this area for a long time? Are you from Washington?
  • What do you do? How is business? Do you enjoy what you do?
  • Do you have any trips coming up that you are looking forward to?
  • How are things going at work, is it a busy time for you?

What questions are you known for asking? Do you use ice breakers when talking with board members and potential donors?


How Do You Engage Your Board?

April 21, 2011

We do regular tours of the organization and hold events for board members and volunteers to invite their friends. There are always a few board members who are phenomenal at inviting their friends and associates to events and tours. And, there are a larger number of volunteers that do not make those kinds of introductions. Why is that?

What do you do to engage your board and your close volunteers? What techniques do you use to get people to regularly introduce people to your organization? Do you take regular time out of your board meetings to ask them to make introductions? Do you provide packets of information? Pre-written emails? Talking points?


What Do You Talk About?

April 13, 2011

Under what pretense do you set up a meeting with new potential supporters? What kinds of questions do you ask that have been effective in engaging new people?

In the last post, I talked about the value of using an individual’s expertise as a way to build a relationship and get some great feedback on your organization. What are some other kinds of meetings you’ve set up that have worked really well? Here are a few I’ve tried; I’d love to hear from you:

  • Monitor the community’s perception of the organization. This is a great barometer to measure what people think of your organization. You can also get a description of what people think your organization does.
  • Learn about their philanthropic passion. I am interested in what motivates people to give as I find that where they give is often an area of great personal passion.
  • What is their interest in the organization and/or community? It is always valuable to learn more about what connected an individual specifically to your organization or community.

Is the Donor First?

March 21, 2011

You heard from a great guest author Leo Notenboom earlier this month. He made some really bold statements about the way we talk about potential and existing donors. What did you think? Do we spend too much time thinking and creating relationships between people and their wallets? This thought is echoed in my recent book review. Relationships are paramount in development work. The more we treat our donors as partners and friends of the organization, the more tightly connected to the mission of the organization they become.

Nonprofits are often at the forefront of recognizing people as human through working with the poor, civil rights, and other types of advocacy. Do we really need to change our development strategies to match our mission? Do we need to take a broader view of who the client that we serve is?


Changing Our Terminology

March 14, 2011

I’ve skated around this topic in some different capacities in the past. Much of my thinking in the All Donors As Major Donors section connects with the philosophy that every donor has value. Upon reflection, I’m not sure if I’ve taken things far enough. It almost sounds like we need a new mantra–something like “Everyone’s a Potential Partner.”

Do you think it would be valuable for us to change some of our terminology? Do you think the word prospect is dehumanizing? What bothers me about the word is that it places the value of one type of interaction with an individual above all of the rest of the potential interactions. It points to them as a potential gift not as a potential friend and partner of the organization.

Do we need to throw out words like prospect which focus on the contribution side of fundraising? What about words like donor, solicitation, acquisition, and major gifts? Maybe that upsets the coffee cart too much, but I am curious what you think.


Connection Meetings

February 23, 2011

I have been truly amazed what a meeting can mean for an organization. People really do give to people, and once you have sat across from someone and heard his or her story, the possibility of receiving a gift from that person increases exponentially. I completely understand the reasons behind cold calls and meetings “just to talk” because they do result in hard dollars.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is framing a connecting meeting. Sales and business development people are willing and understand the value of just connecting. But, business owners, CEO’s, and senior managers don’t really see the point. Under what pretense do you meet and introduce people to your organization? In my initial meetings I almost never talk about money. But, money seems to be what everyone expects us to talk about.

How do you frame a connecting meeting with someone new? Under what pretense do you ask to meet with them? How do you ask them to meet with you and what do you ask to meet about? What do you say when they ask for an agenda?