How to Secure the Gift: 10 Tips from Jerry Panas

Jerry Panas is a fundraising great. Here are some of Jerry’s BEST advice on how to nail the gift. The source is Fired Up Fundraising: Thanks to Gail Perry ( for this summary of Jerry's work.

1. Getting the visit is the toughest part.

Jerry says that if you get the visit, you’re 85% of the way to getting the gift. He believes the best way to secure the visit is to send a letter first before calling your donor. Don’t forget – you may have to be unyieldingly persistent to be able to get the visit with the donor.

2. Be willing to fail.

Remember that fundraising is a numbers game. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some. You won’t win 100% of the time. If you give it your best, and you go out on a limb to make the ask, then that’s all you can do. It’s not always going to be a “yes” – just remember that it’s a numbers game!

3. Enthusiasm is contagious.

There are 3 E’s: Empathy, Energy, and Enthusiasm. Empathy allows you to truly enter the world of your donor. Energy helps to spark enthusiasm and joy.  Enthusiasm gets you to the heart of things – and may be the most effective ingredient of all.

4. Keep your antenna alert.

Use your instincts to watch your donor’s reactions carefully. Body language will tell you so much about whether your donor is really with you – or not. Enthusiasm can take you far!

5. Talk only 25% of the time.

Listening will help you learn about your donor’s wishes and desires. And your prospect is more willing to “buy” when he’s doing the talking. Listening puts the spotlight on your prospect and makes him comfortable and happy.

6. Donors give to the magic of an idea.

Forget your organization’s needs. Eliminate the word “needs”  from your materials and your solicitations! Jerry says to sell the answer, the solution to your community’s problem.

7. You never know until you ask.

Just know that most people are totally petrified about asking. It’s okay. Ask anyway! You can’t talk someone into a gift. The important thing is just to ask! Listen your way to the gift.

8. Your materials are not important in an ask.

It is your oral presenation that will sell the donor. He only uses materials to show the sketch of a building or smiling, happy people. He only leaves the campaign materials at the end of a visit – or not at all!

9. Take only 11 minutes to present your case.

Jerry says to present the all drama, the need, the urgency – and how the gift will benefit so many people. And do it in 11 or 12 minutes!

10. "I would like you to consider a gift of..."

This is the moment of truth. And this is exactly HOW you need to frame the ask. THEN what do you do? You shut up. And you sit silently for a pretty long time – until the donor talks again.