Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fundraising Tip: Hard Truths Your Board Members Must Face If They Want to Raise Big Money

Do your board members want to raise big money? Then it's time to discuss the facts of life with them. Fundraising facts of life, that is.

"You can't handle the truth!" is Jack Nicholson's memorable line in A Few Good Men.

Fortunately, your board members are a hardier lot than Tom Cruise's character. They can in fact accept the truth—in this case, three fundraising truths -- if you carefully explain the validity of each.

1. Go Figure

Say you're approached by a fellow worker and asked to pitch in for the comptroller's wedding gift. The first question you typically ask is, "How much do you have in mind?" or "What are others giving?"

What you're seeking is a frame of reference.

The same dynamic plays out when you approach prospects. They want a sense of what you're looking for or what their peers are giving.

Are you talking $500, $5,000, or $50,000, they want to know.

You need to be specific. To many, that can be unnerving. Heck, it's hard enough to ask for "any amount you can give" or "whatever you can afford," but the temerity of naming a number—that's like asking "How much do you make a year, bud?"

But if you've done your homework—which is to say, you haven't plucked a figure from thin air—then you won't upset your prospect, especially if you phrase the request tactfully: "We're hoping you'll consider a gift in the range of $50,000" or "Will you consider joining me in giving $25,000 to this worthy cause?"

Another way to frame your request is to mention what others are giving, naming names if you've been given permission. Or, you can stress how your campaign needs several friends to contribute at a certain level and you're hoping the prospect will be among them. Here, you might actually share the gift table you developed.

When you bring your car in for service, the mechanic diagnoses the problem and gives you a quote. What if instead he said nothing? You wouldn't know whether you could afford the repair, or even if your car is worth fixing. It would make you uncomfortable—you'd also question the mechanic's ability.

Don't put your prospect in a similar position. Suggest the amount you have in mind, a "quote," if you will. No one's going to slam the hood on your fingers.

Read the rest of this GuideStar article and learn about the other two fundraising truths!

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