Provide Options in Your Ask

Here is how one major gift officer turned a donor’s gift of $2,600 last year into a gift of $56,500 this year.

It all started at a Veritus Group retreat last fall, when one of our client managers shared how one organization she works with listed donor projects separately, but in one publication. When a donor saw this listing, he came back and said he wanted to fund “several projects.”

The idea is to give the donor options – a menu of things he or she can support that align to their interests and passions.

Another of our client managers took that idea and talked to a different MGO about a proposal he was putting together for a foundation. She suggested he do something similar: list all the projects, but also put a tally somewhere. The total for all projects was $125,000.

Here’s what happened.

The donor called and said: “Well, we have $56k left in our funding for the year, and your top three projects come to $56,500, so we’ll fund those!” Last year’s donation from this same foundation was $2,600!

Options work.

This is similar to sales work – a good salesperson will often provide two or three options, including the one she is really wanting the customer to buy. It can sound like this: “Mrs. Jones, as we have talked over the last few weeks about what would really work for you in this situation, I have come to believe that Item B (the preferred option) might be the best choice for you. However, you also might be interested in Item A (2nd option which may be a higher price point) or Item C (3rd option with a lower price point than the preferred option).”

This gives the donor choices and control – and different price points (or ask amounts).

Give this a try, but make sure all the projects/programs you pick align to the passions and interests of the donor. And you could try this in two different ways:

  1. Presenting three options, as I have mentioned above.
  2. Providing a list of projects with a tally, as our client managers have suggested.

Try both ways and see what works best for your donors. The key is to give the donor choices and control in the areas that interest her.

Richard

PS — For more about how to create offers of different sizes for your donors, download our free white paper, “Packaging Program into Donor Offers.”

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