How to talk with donors
[00:00:00] Hi there, Nancy here. Listen up as I share my latest tip of focusing on large gift fund. How to talk to a major donor. I know that seems scary because we, when we say that word, and actually I'm changing my, I'm changing my words just to, to relax people a bit, is large donors, large gift donors. Maybe just, let's get away from the word major donors, cause that is the word we use in our industry, but how to talk with large gift donors.
[00:00:27] And again, we've defined. At a certain level, it might be 500, it might be a thousand, it might be 5,000. So whatever that threshold is, that's not too scary. We're not talking about asking someone for a million dollars right off. That may come later. But let's start and let's get comfortable asking. So start at that threshold amount.
[00:00:47] So really the first thing to think about when you're thinking about talking with donors, large gift donors, is to keep the donor central in your. When I say that, I mean take the focus off of you. When I said I didn't want anything to do with asking people for money, when the college president asked me to oversee the foundation, all the thought was on me.
[00:01:10] I was like, Oh my gosh, I can't do that. I've never done that before. I'm not prepared. All the thought was on me and I was not focused on the needs and the people. That being that conduit, the. Scholarship student. That's what I was focused on, is getting scholarships for students and those who had the means to support scholarships.
[00:01:31] There were lots of people who wanted to support scholarships, so focus on the donor, keep them central. In your mind. That leads to number two, is look for dots that you. Okay, so you're not going to just walk up to somebody, a stranger, and just start talking about your mission. You're gonna talk to someone who maybe you don't know well and ask them about something.
[00:01:56] They are an expert in something they know about. You see, I'm taking the focus off of me and focusing on the potential donor. That's so important here. And if I had done that from the very beginning, I would've gone faster than I than it took me to understand fundraising. Then you wanna think about asking for advice.
[00:02:18] So once you figure out what the dots are that you're trying to connect, you wanna ask for advice in their area of expertise or something they know about. You may not consider them an expert, but a lot of times they're an expert in an area or just something they know. If that makes more sense. Something they know a little bit more about than you or they've had experience with that kinda makes them an expert.
[00:02:41] And then last is be yourself. Always be yourself. Make sure you're being you and have a funny story that pops in my head. You may have heard me tell this, but it. It is so classic and it tells the story. This has nothing to do with fundraising, but you'll see what I mean when I tell this. My husband and I were at a lake house of a friend's, and so they let us use their lake house.
[00:03:08] Someone knocked on the door and said, Hey, we're having a gathering of people and we just invite you to come on down. If you want to, it's tomorrow. Just come on. And so we thought, Okay, well that'll be fun. We don't know anybody here, we're just guests in the area of this cabin. So we went and we were talking to different people and chatting and kinda in a circle of probably eight or 10 or 12 people and introduced myself.
[00:03:31] And then this gentleman people were kind of talking to and, uh, I said my name and he said, Well, I'm John g gr. And I said, Well, that's an easy name to remember. You know the writer, the famous writer from Mississippi. And I just laughed and I said, That's an easy name to remember. He was an older gentleman.
[00:03:48] He's just so kind. And so I ended up talking with him just by himself. I didn't know him. He didn't know me. So I got back to the cabin and my husband said, Oh my gosh, you got to know Mr. Mr. Grham. How was that conversation? I said, He is so nice. It was enjoyable to talk with. And I said, Who all did you visit with?
[00:04:07] And he said, You do know who he was, don't you? And I said, Well, no. He said, That's John Grham, the writer's dad. And I said, Oh my gosh. I did not know that. And the next day I went to this local coffee shop and he and his wife were in there and I walk in the door and he's waving his hand, calling my name like we're best friends.
[00:04:31] Helps me to come over, come over. And of course I know him then, and I feel like a different person because now I know who he is and I'm probably not like I was the day before. The point of this is I was myself. I didn't know who he was. And I was relaxed and I was just chatty with people who were in the neighborhood that invited us over.
[00:04:55] So I say that to a point is if you are introduced to a large gift donor, a major donor, don't freak out and not be yourself. Be who you are and, and you wanna feel that best friend like he was with me. And the funny thing is probably all the other people there knew who he was and I didn't. and they shied away from him, or they couldn't be themselves or all, All they wanted to do is ask about their one son.
[00:05:22] There were other family members. I just wasn't focused on that one. Son of this, and I was chatting with him about other things. That's the point. It's really key to be yourself as a fundraiser and connect with people and connect with them on a personal level and don't feel. That you're always after their money.
[00:05:42] You're interested in them as a person and not their pocketbook. And that needs to come through and it, and people can sniff out a phony or someone who's not being themselves or is not relaxed but is being guarded. I want people to be professional, but be yourself and and think about that when you're meeting people and talking with people.
[00:06:06] Just be. , the person can have that genuine conversation. Be sure you are signed up to receive my quick tips and strategies each week by clicking the link here. See you next time.
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].