In my last blog, I talked about how to me, summer is space. Space for many things, including cleaning out mindsets that can get in your way. Mindsets like those that limit you from asking donors for increases or significant gifts.
If you haven’t had a chance to go through the exercise I shared, I encourage you to stop reading. Do that first!
Now that you’ve started to release the mindsets that are keeping you from asking your donors for gifts that are soul fulfilling, let me take a moment to talk to you about what that means. Then, I’ll share some language that you can use in your next donor conversation.
When you approach asking in a soul-fulfilling way, that means that you’re regularly telling your donor how they’re making a difference in the programs that they are passionate about, and you’re offering opportunities to increase their giving or even make a significant gift to those programs. This is deeply meaningful to them. Like us, donors also have weary hearts from seeing and feeling the pain of our world. So, when you give them an avenue to make an impact on that pain and suffering in a big way, maybe even bigger than is comfortable, it is soul filling.
So, let’s talk about ways to help you get there.
Beyond just the mindset shift, you may have fears or concerns related to how you actually do this. Or what to say. Here are some examples of what it could sound like to ask in a variety of situations:
Timing: “Hernando, you have shared with me that your business is in flux right now. I have some interesting program expansion needs I would love to share with you. Would this be good timing for that, or would you rather we wait until a future date?”
Balancing Personal with Professional: “Jada, we have known each other for 25 years! I want to make sure that our friendship never blocks your opportunities to make an impact where you feel the most passionate. Would you be interested in hearing about some upcoming program opportunities that might interest you?”
Need Unrestricted Funds: “Kevin, you have been there by our side the past eight years supporting our organization so generously. As you know, we are finding that our programs are lowering the rates of obesity and depression in kids in ways we never even expected. And, we want to keep expanding our work. Would you be interested in hearing about how an unrestricted gift would help us expand in new ways?”
Asking for More: “Kai, you have so faithfully given $10,000 for the last 7 years. Can you believe you have given $70,000 to support senior nutrition?! Thank you so much for all that you have done to help so many of our wonderful seniors live their lives more fully. I also don’t want to assume that you wouldn’t be interested in hearing about additional projects. Would you like to hear about how we want to double our senior feeding program and what that would entail?”
Asking for a Significant Gift: “Emad, we have been talking for a while about the need for creating community gardens to ensure every neighborhood that is a food desert has more healthy food choices across our city. This will take a number of organizations working together collaboratively to make that happen. Your generous support in this area over the past five years has helped us buy all the plants for the 5 gardens we have, feeding over a thousand families. As you would imagine, that collaborative effort is going to require some significant funding. Would you be interested in hearing about what it might mean to really go big here and provide a matching grant to ensure this can happen quickly and is sustainable?”
In each situation, I asked permission first, instead of going right to the ask.
If they say yes to wanting to hear more, then fully inform them about the new opportunity. First, share information and have them ask questions. Next, ask if they feel they know enough to hear what this partnership will entail. And then you ask for the gift. It might sound like, “Emad, would you be interested in providing a $2MM gift as a matching gift for the community garden program?”
And, one last thing. Don’t let the fact that you can’t get your donor to meet face-to-face stop you from having these conversations. You can ask about their interest in hearing more about a particular project or opportunity by email, text, voicemail, or on Zoom. Just recently we heard an incredible story from a client where an MGO interacted almost exclusively with a donor’s financial advisor by text, and ultimately closed a $50,000 gift!
Alright, you’ve got the tools to shift your mindset and some sample language for asking your donors for soul-fulfilling gifts. Put a 30 minute timeslot on your calendar right now to put this into action. Journal about what gets in your way and what you want to replace it with. Be honest about where you need to build your skill set and plan out your next steps to do so. If you want to build your ability to ask great open-ended questions start with our free white paper on our Permission-Based Asking™ model. Let me know how it goes!