3 Vital Steps To Successfully Making The Fundraising Ask looks at the fundamentals of making a successful ask to people in leadership positions.
1. Making the Ask to a Business Leader
We all know that individuals account for most of the philanthropic giving in the USA, but one thing we need to remember is that businesses are run by individuals—owners, CEOs, or Giving Committees. When talking to business leaders, remember you will likely have a limited amount of time, so get to the point quickly without too much chitchat. Although it is usually wise to spend a bit of time commenting on the company’s success, the business leader’s accomplishments, or general community topics.
Be sure to thank business leaders if their companies have supported you in the past. If not, you can thank them for support their companies have provided for the community.
You’ve rehearsed and know already what you are going to ask for and who is going to make the ask; and you might even have worked out some internal signals, such as “when I cross my legs, the prospect is ready for the ask.”
Be direct about the amount you are asking for. After all, you’ve done your homework and you know this amount is a reasonable ask amount for this company. The volunteer might say “Joe, our company is committed to this project, and we’ve made a $100,000 gift to show the community how strongly we feel about this program. I know this cause is also important to you, your staff, and your customers, and I am hoping you will join us and make a $100,000 from your company.”
2. Offer Options For The Ask
Before you go into the call, one of the things your solicitors should be aware of is the various options for support listed in your case for support, such as the following:
- An outright gift or grant
- A pledge to be paid monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually
- Employee volunteer programs
- Sponsorship of a program
You should also explain the options for recognition, which could include the following:
- The company’s name on a building, room, or area of a campus
- Listing in annual reports, website, and/or newsletter
- Advertising or press releases
- Signage at events or programs
- Plaques or other mementos
Most businesses want to be recognized as being good “corporate citizens” in their communities. I recall one bank resident who proudly showed me his “trophy case” of recognition gifts his company received from various nonprofits, and even told me stories about the ones that really meant a lot to him and why.
Be sure, of course, that these recognition items have been approved by your staff, board, and campaign cabinet before offering any options to the company. If the business leader expresses an interest in a type of recognition you do not currently offer, be sure to mention that you are happy to take this idea back to your organization and see if it will work.
3. Follow Up After The Ask
After the call is over, you still have one more task: Follow up! If the leader you are speaking with asks for more information, get that information as soon as possible. If there is another appointment to be scheduled, do it before you leave the leader’s office. Be certain that volunteers are aware of follow-up and reporting procedures.
Remember that business leaders, even if they are the owner or CEO, might not be the final decision maker, and that leader might have a committee that reviews requests. So, find out if there are other people in the company that should be at the next meeting.
Debrief with the asking team right away. Maybe have coffee after the visit and fill out the contact report form right away. The information can then be entered into your database as soon as you get back to the office and the next steps can be planned.
A handwritten thank you note is always appreciated and remembered.
3 Vital Steps To Successfully Making The Fundraising Ask was first posted at Development Systems International.
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