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Mayes Wilson & Associates

Preparing to ask for a major gift

Julie Whelan Capell |

Here we are, part three in my series on “Making the Ask.”

In May, I gave you some ideas about figuring out who are your major gift prospects. In June I reviewed how to get the ask meeting  and today I’ll talk about preparing for the meeting.

Before I get into specifics, I want to emphasize that every donor is unique. Prepare for each meeting accordingly. The more you know about the donor ahead of time, the better. And remember to stay open to learning new things about the donor and responding to that new information in real time during the meeting, no matter what your prep session predicted.

Information you should collect prior to the meeting:

  1. When the donor made their most recent gift, the gift amount, and if the gift was designated to any particular program or activity
  2. The donor’s year-to-year giving patterns, including how long they’ve been giving
  3. What was their largest gift to your organization?

All of this information should be easily extractable from your donor database. (Please don’t tell me you’re still using an excel spreadsheet to track your donors!!)

Other things you’ll need before meeting with your prospects:

  • Have a couple of projects to discuss that align with this donor’s interests
  • Be prepared to talk about your big vision (strategic goals)
  • Have an objective for the meeting. Based on what you know about the donor, decide on a SPECIFIC dollar amount to ask for.
  • Prepare for responses, including objections, specifically for each donor.

It’s also a good idea to practice with someone, particularly if you aren’t very experienced in making asks. It’s even okay to write out scripts and read them out loud for practice. Do whatever it takes to feel smooth and natural when you finally get into the room with the donor.

Next month, I’ll share more specific ideas about making the ask.

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