There are so many factors that go into a successful solicitation that it would be wrong to say this or that is the most important. Multiple factors, including good luck, are a part of the solicitation process. But included on any list would be:
- A Compelling Vision
- Clear and Articulate Ask
Recently I was reminded of another crucial component.
The right person needs to ask the right person at the right time.
A client was making preparations to solicit a Foundation for a large grant. One week before the ask, the Board Chair learned that a friend of his was on the Foundation Board. The Board Chair made a phone call and explained the need. The next week the Foundation granted the entire request.
The CEO of this Non-profit maintains a close relationship with the Director of the Foundation. The Non-profit has a compelling vision and a clear need. The grant was well prepared and the interview went well. And in this case, perhaps most importantly, the right person called the right person at the right time.
When time comes to make a solicitation, always ask two questions. "Who is the right person to make this request?" To ignore existing friendships and relationships is simply silly and shortsighted. Remember people not only give to a vision, they give to people--people they know and trust.
Second ask, "Is this the right time?" The donor may not be ready to give. A business set-back, a family illness, swamped at work, or maybe even they don't truly understand the need. Is it the right time to make this ask?
The larger the gift, the more important it is to ask these two questions.