Making the “Ask”: Third Point in a Cycle of Life-Long Nonprofit Giving —Part 1

A Four-Stage Plan for Major Donor Cultivation for the Annual Fund Series

David A. Mersky image“What do you fear the most?” is a question I often ask a group whom I educating about the fine art of solicitation and nonprofit giving. People respond with all of the usual answers that you would anticipate, “Death,” “Getting caught in a fiery conflagration,” and, not surprisingly, “Public speaking.”

No one ever says that they are afraid of “Asking.” But, fear of asking is totally legitimate. In fact, we have an in-bred fear of asking for anything. And, when you overlay our fear of asking for anything with our cultural neurosis about money, then you can understand why a board member refuses to undertake a solicitation
This article is designed, in part, to help you overcome our anxiety about asking.

Step One
The first step is to recognize when a prospective donor is ready to be asked. Signs vary but may include that the prospective donor answers your phone calls, volunteers more and/or make gifts-in-kind.

Step Two
The second step in overcoming your anxiety is to obtain an appointment for a face-to-face meeting. The entire appointment-making process becomes much easier if you truly prepare for the call in great detail. Here is a sure fire way to “score” the appointment which enhances your chance for success.

Begin by clarifying your objectives. Pretend that you are a reporter and that you have to be sure that the lead—the first sentence or paragraph of your story—answers the classic journalist’s questions, “Who, what, when, where, why and how.”
Then, write a script for your side of the call. In that way you will be able to function in an unconsciously competent manner and be prepared to listen actively to the person on the other side of the conversation.

Next Month: Making the “Ask”: Third Point in a Cycle of Life-Long Giving—Part 2

Previous articles in the series include:

Follow Up and Involve: The Second Point in a Cycle of Life-Long Giving

Gateway Events: First Point in a Cycle of Life-Long Giving