Successful individual major gift solicitation requires a thoughtfully crafted strategic approach. The amount of time spent planning the ask should reflect the magnitude of the request. Just as most people take their time and do their research before making a significant financial investment, so do most philanthropists. It is important to earn the right to ask for major investment in your organization through meaningful cultivation of your prospects.
To help you determine if you are ready to approach an individual prospect for a major gift, we’ve compiled a list of key indicators that should be present before moving forward with an ask. If you answer NO to any one of the following questions, you probably aren't ready!
Have you had at least 2-4 substantive one-on-one meetings in the past year (events or passing conversations do not count) with the prospect?
Does the prospect understand what your organization does and WHY it is important?
Is your organization ready, willing and able to utilize the gift as it is intended?
Have you discussed the prospect’s interests, values and goals related to their philanthropy and process for making major gifts? Have you identified other family members (spouse, children) who should be included in the conversation?
Does the prospect fully understand the priority/project/initiative that you are hoping they will support, including why support is vital, and the impact of that support?
Have you given the prospect a sense of the range of support you are seeking?
Have you asked the prospect to meet to specifically discuss their support so they won't feel ambushed!?
Do you have a sense of the prospect’s capacity based on your knowledge of them, their involvement and past support of your organization, their support of other organizations, and their estimated net-worth from available prospect research?
Have you prepared a solicitation team for the “ask” meeting with clear roles for each person, including who will ask for a specific gift amount?
Have you drafted a leave-behind proposal or project overview with the ask amount for the donor to read after the meeting?
Are you prepared to respond to the prospect’s questions, concerns and possible objections during the meeting?
Do you know what strategies to employ to “close” the gift (i.e. secure the gift amount, when it will be made, how it will be paid, and how the donor wishes to be recognized)?
Are you prepared to arrange for a follow-up meeting to close the gift after the solicitation meeting, if necessary?
Remember, major gift solicitations are a highly personalized endeavor! Gift conversations should be done IN PERSON, not over the phone, through email or by letter – unless the prospect specifically requests it and only AFTER a solid relationship has been developed with the prospect.
To learn more about the art and science of fundraising and how Sage Advancement Group can help your organization thrive, contact us today!