13 Essentials on your Visits Asking for a Major Gift

Feb 27, 2019Donors

Fundraising-is-conversational-engaging-and-thoughtful- Donors

I remember one of the first times I asked a donor for a major gift. I was helping a friend raise money for an arts organization. The couple was middle-aged, had no children, and had been consistent supporters of the organization. We shared with them the needs and the plan for addressing these needs. After about 15 minutes, they asked how much we needed for the project. I answered, “Close to $1 million.” I thought my friend would slide under the table. They didn’t commit for $1million, but they did write a check for $50,000.

I wish I had had a little more training. But I guess that was my training. You just have to put yourself out there and try it.

For you to be more prepared than I was on one of my first donor visits, here are 13 essentials to remember on your visits when asking for support.

1.  No surprises – When you set up the meeting, share with your donors you first would like their opinion on a matter. Also share that you would like for them to consider a gift. Let them know you have something particular in mind for their investment.

2.  Say thank you – Show appreciation and gratitude for the support they have been providing. You are likely meeting with individuals who have been supporting you. If not, thank them for something that they have done for your nonprofit or the community.

3.  Congratulate them on an award, a new business venture, a new grandchild, etc. Let them know you value them and their contributions to the community.

4.  Be conversational. Be yourself. Be professional. Do not make this a formal presentation.

5.  Ask for advice for something they would have knowledge about. As mentioned above, seek their opinion. Do not ask for advice for something “off the wall” that they would not know anything about. 

6.  Show how deeply passionate you are about your nonprofit. Your passion will be contagious.

7.  Share a story of impact, and let the donor know he/she is the hero. Thank them again for their gift. Share how their gifts have made a difference. Tell a story of success followed by a story of need.

8.  Remind them that the problem still exists. Let them know there is still work to be done. Share your vision, and invite them to be part of the solution.

9.  Askwould you consider supporting the abc nonprofit with a gift of $10,000?” Be silent for 5 seconds.

10. Know what the donor is passionate about before you ask for the gift. Align their gift with a need and something the donor cares about deeply.

11. Listen to them with intention, curiosity, and sincerity. Do not do most of the talking. Be acutely aware if you are dominating the conversation. 

12. Consider their gift an investment and tell them so.

13. Thank them again for their consideration and time.

To know the essential in identifying your major donors, read 3 Most Important Criteria When Identifying Your Ideal Major Donors.

In short, these are the most important things to remember on a donor ask visit:

  1. Thank
  2. Listen
  3. Ask
  4. Thank

It’s that simple.

Most important, be yourself, be sincere, and connect with the donor. Donors appreciate your taking the time to call or visit with them.

Read What Motivates Your Donors to Give.

It’s not about the gift. It’s about making a connection. It’s about making a difference. You are the conduit between those with the means to give and want to make a difference and those who need help and support.

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].


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