What Have You Learned About Solicitation?

Recently I started a client meeting with this question. Honestly, I was mostly thinking warm-up before we got down to business. It turns out this was the best part of the meeting.

Those who answered were key volunteers, members of the development team, the CEO and other key employees who had accepted solicitation responsibilities for the upcoming capital campaign. These responses could be the subtitles in a chapter entitled, Fundraising 101.

·      You must connect people with the story

         I loved this one. Facts, figures, stats—they are all important. But at the heart of every      solicitation is a story. How does your donor connect to the story?

·      Don’t get in the way

        Make your case, make the ask, and stop talking. This respondent had learned that you can say too much.

·      The fear of anticipation is greater than the actual solicitation

         This response came from a key volunteer who was just getting his feet wet. He had run companies all his life and now he was asking people for major donations. He rose to the challenge.

·      You can see confidence grow the more you do it

         Nothing beats practice. Role play is helpful and should be utilized in training, but you aren’t going to grow until you actually venture out.

·      Setting up appointments is difficult

         This one was a surprise but should not have been. People are busy and not always inclined to accept a solicitation meeting. It takes persistence and hard work.

·      We assume Board members know what is going on

         It is impossible to over communicate. This particular Board had been told multiple times about upcoming solicitations, and yet some were still surprised.

·      It is hard to know how much to ask for

         Yes, it is. Sometimes you blow it and shoot too high and there is that awkward moment. You will survive it though

·      You can ask for too little

         What would you rather have—the awkward moment mentioned above or leaving money on the table because the ask was too timid?