So you’re ready to ask a prospect for a major gift – face to face. Congratulations! You’re taking a big step.
Be prepared. Getting the meeting is the hardest part of the solicitation process.
The moment you’re trying to set the meeting is the point at which the prospect can most easily say “no.” And donors will sometimes try to “preempt” the ask by making a gift over the phone. While this may sound like a short cut for you, it almost always results in a smaller gift as both you and your prospect are unable to get the full picture of the opportunity in a phone call.
Let’s face it, people are busy. It’s hard to find time for a personal solicitation meeting. But, it’s worth it.
Before you call, craft your speaking points.
Try the telephone first. Write down your speaking points in bullet point format and practice saying them aloud a few times before you call. You might say something like:
“Hey Mona, I think you know I’m on the board of the animal shelter. I was so excited to learn that you’ve been involved as a donor and that you adopted from us! How’s your pooch? Listen, we’ve got some amazing things happening with the veterinary program and I’m hoping I can fill you in over lunch. Do you have a favorite place? I want to share what we’re doing and also make sure you know how you can be involved. I know how much you care about our four-legged friends.”
Here are a few things to think about as you prepare your speaking points for the phone call:
Now that you’ve got your speaking points ready, you’re almost ready to call. But not yet!
Get ready to handle objections.
You should expect some initial reluctance. Write down everything you think the prospect might say and then craft a response.
If the prospect says: “Gee, thanks for the invitation. My dog Zippy’s doing great these days. I do love the shelter, but I don’t think it’s worth your time to meet with me. I’m already giving and don’t think I’ll want to do more at this time.”
You might be prepared to say: “Mona, it’s precisely because you’re already giving that I want to meet with you. As one of our most committed friends, I want to share with you first-hand the difference you’re making and make sure you know how else you might help.”
You get the drift. Be prepared and be persistent!
While it’s great to get someone on the phone, many donors prefer other kinds of communication. If you can’t get the donor on the phone, consider using e-mail, text, or even social media to get the conversation going.
Leslie tells the story about when her team had a donor who would not respond to any form of communication, but continued to give. They knew they were a prospect for a larger gift, so they asked a long-time donor who lived up the street to go knock on their door. It worked like a charm. They had a phone conversation and a then a successful meeting.
Good luck with those calls! And one final tip – make them when you’re in a good mood. You’re enthusiasm will be contagious.