Have you heard? The success of a fundraising ask comes down to, “The right person asking the right prospect for the right amount (for the right project) at the right time.” That’s a lot to get right!
Let’s tackle the right person here. Start by considering…
Who has the closest relationship with your donor?
To stay donor-centered, the person who has the closest relationship with your donor should attend the ask meeting. This may be a board member, another volunteer, a peer in the community, or another donor. This person with the close relationship to your donor may not be willing to make the actual ask, but her presence will make your donor feel comfortable.
Who is the highest-ranking staff member connected to your donor?
For prospects or donors with the capacity and inclination to make the largest gifts to your nonprofit, you’ll want to bring your executive director or CEO. This sends the message to your donor that his partnership with your organization is important.
For donors at lower levels, the staff member who attends might be your director of development or another senior staff person. If your donor is interested in a particular program, and has a relationship with the program director, then this program director might be a good fit.
In any case, the attending staff member should be prepared to share program details, relate stories showing impact, and answer a donor’s questions.
Other questions to ask yourself:
Which personalities make the most sense? Who connects best with this donor? Whose presence in the room will create a climate of positivity and offer the best chance for success? Frankly, is there anyone your donor would have difficulty saying ‘no’ to?
In a perfect world, there will be two people from your organization attending the ask visit rather than only one (and not more than three). The dynamic of three people talking (or four) is less intense than one-on-one, and everyone will be more at ease, including your donor.
Also, the ladder of effectiveness tells us that face-to-face asks with two people work better than with one. In other words, having two people from your organization will boost your chances of hearing ‘yes’ to your request for funding.
There are a number of reasons for this, including the simple fact that it’s harder for someone to say ‘no’ to two people (vs. one). Chalk it up to the very human fear of disappointing others— and let it work to your advantage! For more on the power of pairs, check out this post on partnering up for solicitation visits.
Last, a few thoughts on who should NOT attend an ask meeting:
• Poor listeners
• Personalities that you know will clash with your donor’s
• Someone your donor has never met before
• In some cases… You! (Don’t take this the wrong way. Sometimes it absolutely makes sense for you to meet with donors. And sometimes it doesn’t. The best development officers recognize when they should step aside and let another nonprofit advocate – one who is more persuasive for a particular donor – take their spot.)
Have you arranged or participated in some successful ask meetings? Share your story in the Comments box below!
Special gift for you: My step-by-step guide, Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, is available here (click).