Major Gift Asks – Putting Them In Perspective is Jim Eskin’s take on inviting major donors to give big gifts while meeting face-to-face (or screen-to-screen).
It’s widely accepted that too many professional and volunteer non-profit leaders, even those passionate about their respective causes, are terrified at the thought of asking someone they know for a gift of time or money.
It doesn’t and shouldn’t be this way. Like most other skilled activities doing it once or twice is the best way to overcome the fear.
Excellence in most professions is expedited by the time-tested stratagem of learning by doing. This is a theory of education expounded by American philosopher John Dewey. It emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning, meaning students must interact with their environment in order to adapt and learn.
I will make the case that in no profession or discipline does it carry as much weight as in fundraising, especially the high-value activity of personal solicitation of major gifts.
Why are so many people — including non-profit leaders who are virtually fearless in everything else they need to do in their lives — so terrified of asking for a gift for a favorite non-profit or cause? One big reason is that too many have never experienced a charitable solicitation for themselves.
At best, they are only familiar with getting gifts, not asking for them. There is a huge difference between the two. In the passive act of getting a gift, the donor determines the purpose, timing and amount. When the gift is intentionally and strategically solicited, the non-profit has the opportunity to influence the purpose, timing and amount.
To put it bluntly, most non-profit leaders who are scared of asking for gifts are frightened of entering unknown territory.
As a fundraising trainer/consultant I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with professional and volunteer non-profit leaders from organizations of all sizes who represent a wide variety of missions. Soliciting gifts is both an art and science. The better you know the science, the more artful you can be in its application.
In his blockbuster book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell introduced the “10,000-hour rule.” As he explains it, the rule goes like this: It takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like being able to play the cello as well as Yo-Yo Ma, or land a rover on Mars.
While a fundraiser doesn’t necessarily need to meet that standard, there is no substitute for training, rehearsing, practicing, observing, and actually doing it yourself.
Let me offer 10 big ideas when asking face-to-face (or screen-to -screen)!
To sum up, successful fundraisers do not have superpowers. They are not a special breed who can handle rejection. Rather they are like the millions of men and women who believe deeply in the missions of their non-profits, and recognize that when they are asking, it is for something larger than themselves. They know they are giving the donor prospect an opportunity to feel great by doing something tangible to improve the world and make life better for others.
Jim Eskin’s leadership roles span more than 30 years in fundraising, public affairs and communications in the San Antonio area. During his career, he established records for gifts from individuals at three South Texas institutions of higher learning. He enjoys training non-profit boards on fundraising best practices and overcoming the fear of asking for gifts. His consulting practice Eskin Fundraising Training builds on the success of his 150 fundraising workshops and webinars and provides the training, coaching and support services that non-profits need to compete for and secure private gifts. He has authored more than 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers, business journals and blogs across the country, and publishes Stratagems, a monthly e-newsletter exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy. Sign up here for a free subscription. He is author of 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons, which can be purchased here.
Major Gift Asks – Putting Them In Perspective was first posted at MajorGiftsRampUp.com
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