“I Can’t Tell People What They Should Give!”

Sections of this topic

    No one would argue the fact that every fundraising campaign needs a goal and that everyone connected with the campaign, including prospective donors, needs to be aware of that goal.

    Why, then, do people so often fight the setting of a goal for each prospective donor and the sharing of that goal with the prospect?

    Trustees often blanch at the idea, and it is the rare solicitor who for the first time he or she is told that there will be a suggested giving amount for each of his prospects does not respond with, “I can’t tell people what to give!”

    They’re right! Solicitors shouldn’t try to tell prospects what to give, as that will likely engender a great deal of resistance.

    Yet, setting a personal goal for all prospective individual donors, letting prospects know what their goal is, and helping them see where and how it fits under the umbrella of the campaign goal, are probably the most important elements of any campaign.

    No matter what prospective donors you are approaching, you need to be ready with a suggested giving amount in line with what each prospective donor is capable of giving. Dealing with foundations, corporations, and government funders in this manner is easy. In fact, it us usually required. Grant application forms have a blank space where you fill in the amount requested. But when it comes to individual donors, we seem to think it is a different kettle of fish. It isn’t.

    If a fundraising campaign is to have a realistic chance at succeeding, we must, in the case of every prospective individual donor:
       1. Rate and evaluate the person’s ability to give.
       2. Seek a realistically large—hopefully the maximum—potential gift.
       3. Provide the donor with a suggested gift amount.

    This rating and evaluating process applied to as many of our key potential donors as possible will allow us to suggest what we would like them to give. It does not tell them what to give.

    Most prospects will welcome a suggestion of what would be appropriate. People nearly always want to know what the “price” of something is. It is rare that anyone decides to purchase an item without first looking at its price tag. The same is true when it comes to making a philanthropic donation.

    People want to know how much the soliciting organization needs, and those responsible for fundraising should always have a ready answer. That answer should be a specific dollar amount determined by a rating and evaluating process, but far too often it is:

    1. “Give what you can:” Requesting that multimillionaires give what they can is capricious.
       You seldom are likely to be asking any one person for resources of that magnitude.
    2. “Give what you are comfortable with.” People can be comfortable with giving $10 when
       you need $100 and they could give that and more.
    3. “We would appreciate a gift in the range of $ ________ to $ ______.” Asking for a gift,
       for example, in the range of $100 to $1,000 tells the prospect you haven’t determined
       what your real needs are and you certainly do not know the prospect’s potential to give.

    You should always suggest a specific number, and that number must be presented in a way that is neither annoying nor demanding. There is only one person who can and will decide the size of the gift – the individual making that gift, and most prospects will welcome and consider a request made that way.

    Have a question or comment for Tony? He can be reached at Tony@raise-funds.com. There is also a lot of good fundraising information on his website: Raise-Funds.com
    Have you seen
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks ??

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and cheap 🙂
    We’re going to take a break, now, for the July 4th Holiday,
    then we’ll begin our once-a-week (Thursdays) Summer Schedule.

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