Remember, doing good is not enough There are more than 80,000 charities in Canada Each is empowered to raise funds through donations and philanthropy Though Canada is one of the most generous countries on earth in terms of giving of our time and money, we are competing for potential donors and potential leaders So how do we find these generous and community minded people, businesses and organizations? The difference between a successful Campaign and a failed campaign is in following the pre-conditions for success. We must stay focused on leadership gifts first.
The Solicitation Readiness Checklist From our earlier sessions, we know that we don’t solicit until the prospect is fully qualified. We do everything in the right order but the donor is in charge of the timetable. “Do you want this process to be perfect or on time?” “A slow yes is far better than a fast no.” So before we solicit, we ensure that we remember the principles and satisfy the checklist.
The Principles A stranger asks a stranger for a gift and the exchange is awkward for both parties and usually results in few gifts and small gifts. A new acquaintance asks a new acquaintance for a gift which results in a few more gifts but still smaller than desired and the relationship is strained. A good friend asks a good friend for support and it is almost always forthcoming and both parties derive good feelings from the exchange.
There are a number of steps we can demonstrate we have covered: A documented trail of visits and encounters that moved the prospect through the cultivation process; We shared our information (Case) which generated visible and expressed interest; We found a way for them to become involved in our agency or campaign and they have given us the clear signal that they wish to invest. So, let’s see if we have made friends…
We know the answers to the key questions Do you like and support our Vision and our Project? Is now an appropriate time to ask for your support? Do we have your support to present you with a proposal at the leadership giving level? We have set a date to come present our proposal to you?
The Clearance Process Campaigns are highly controlled processes – there is very little room for or benefit from “freelancing.” The Wrap Around Campaign Model reduces the frequency of the “rogue” volunteer but we still need to make it perfectly clear that no one conducts a solicitation without the “green light” from the Campaign Director. “Cocktail” canvassing can waste great prospects and leave large gifts behind. Once clearance for Solicitation is given (including the solicitation ask amount) the following steps are necessary …
Final Strategy Session The Campaign Director meets with the appropriate staff liaison and the prospect canvasser for a final strategy session. We review the entire file of information gathered from our visits with the prospect in order to determine the following: Solicitation location; Time of day; Solicitation team; Final ask amount and payment strategy; Any recognition elements we want to present.
The Solicitation Script A written plan on how to conduct the call Outlines who says what and when Develops the contingencies – if this, then that Confirms the role of the non-speaker Key elements: Opening conversation – any topic – allows us to ensure the atmosphere and tone as projected by the prospect is right Formal beginning – why we are here Justification and matching – what you have told us and confirmation of how we got to today Review of the Vision of the projects and benefits to all concerned and to the prospect.
More on the Script Presenting the confirmation of their area of interest for Vibrant Communities: Outlining how their support will have impact – project and other leaders; Welcoming them in other ways in the project; Requesting a specific amount of support over a specific pledge period – stop and listen. We clarify who delivers which part of the call. We ensure that the non-speaker is looking for body language cues and or verbal cues that tell us to keep going or stop and clarify, etc.
Just Before the Meeting Quickly review the script. Ensure you have all of the materials you wish to bring (and if you are bringing the case you aren’t ready to ask!!). Remind each other why this is such an important call – remember the other successful calls you have been on. Be early (not too early but be early) and be relaxed. Dress for respect.
During the Meeting Be passionate and sincere but not overwhelming. Follow the script unless otherwise instructed or led by the prospect. Be confident and warm and natural. After you ask – be quiet – do not step in no matter how long the pause. Listen carefully to what the prospect says in response – if you have done your job right they will clarify and qualify how they wish to support you. The minimum outcome is to deflect a no – try to turn it into “not now” – otherwise set a face to face date to get a firm decision – do not leave the pledge card.
After the Meeting Send an immediate thank you letter and/or card for spending the time with you. Try to reinforce all of the positive elements of the call and give clarification to any area requiring more information. Remind them of the come back meeting. If it was relatively conclusive, confirm the process of negotiating recognition and the pledge schedule. If it was a yes, begin the thank you process – send a dozen yellow roses that day.
The Challenge of Follow up Keep the “trail” warm – ensure they are invited to events or there is non-solicitation contact while they are making their decision. Consider having credible peers call with encouragement and rationale as to why they gave. If they have given you a call back date try not to “pester them” before the agreed upon date. Come back prepared based on the call – more details you think they want, clearer sense of recognition at the gift level they are considering. This area requires great sensitivity and care.
The Notes to File The results of the call must be detailed immediately after the call and deposited in the prospect file. All pledge forms must be completed and copied to file. The deliverables of the proposal in terms of recognition and access are detailed and dropped into the Stewardship Plan.
And After the Gift… We have a tremendous opportunity to deepen the relationship and engage our donors as leaders in the project. Remember, they have declared themselves as “investors” in Vibrant Communities. In most cases, not all, they will want to have a hand in ensuring that their donation does indeed have impact.
Possible Roles Using their name and gift size with other potential donors Identifying prospects Soliciting select prospects Acting as a reference Providing a testimonial Joining the Leadership Roundtable or other leadership forums Attending cultivation events and possibly being a living testimonial Acting as a project mentor or advisor Hosting events Serve on a partner agency Board or Committee Becoming an honorary patron