By Yvette LeGear Hartsfield, MA, CAP, CFRE, Vice President of Campaigns

Fear, we all experience it. Large major gift campaigns instill fear into every one of us. We can accomplish all the tasks we assign ourselves — forming a compelling and urgent case, identifying the prospective donors, recruiting the leadership, developing a solid plan…but success boils down to asking donors for financial investment. Doubts start to creep into our thoughts, “they just gave a gift to another charity,” “why would they give a gift because I ask,” or “this is not the right time for an ask.” All of these questions and others are delay techniques we use to put off just making the ask.

As your mind starts to spiral, pulling up objections to avoid talking with a donor about a significant gift ask, remember these tips:

  1. This is not about you. The relationship you and others have built with a potential campaign donor has developed over the years through a shared passion for the mission of your nonprofit. Yes, the donor likes you, likes your CEO and/or has a good relationship with a member of your cabinet, but they are giving to the nonprofit because the work matters to them. Once you take the focus off of you and place it correctly on the mission, you will feel more secure in your ability to solicit a significant gift.
  2. Working with a donor is 90% cultivation and stewardship and only 10% solicitation. We never solicit donors through a “cold call” method, especially when in a campaign. By the time we are asking for an investment gift, we already know our donor very well. We know what they like about our organization, we know how they like to be approached, and we have a very good idea of the size gift the donor may be able to make.
  3. The meeting with the donor is a conversation. By the time you are making a gift ask for the campaign, the donor has been on a tour, or attended a small gathering about the campaign, or you and/or your CEO have been talking about the campaign initiatives and how it will impact the future of your valuable work. The solicitation meeting is an opportunity for you to present your case, request their partnership in the form of a financial commitment, and listen. Campaign solicitations are rarely confirmed when you first make your request. Through continuous dialogue over several weeks or months, the donor will be able to make a decision.

Campaigns are exciting. Campaigns significantly move the organization forward in its vision to change the world. But, campaigns are also scary. Take a breath, hold on, and plunge ahead. You got this!

#LBH #LetsBuildHope #Campaigns #FeelingTheFear #DoItAnyway #GlimmersOfHope #Blog

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