Opportunities to schedule face‐to‐face meetings with prospects may prove limited, but these personal interactions are key to major gift acquisitions. Relating over pets and favorite vacation spots can feel authentic, but this time could be better spent driving progress.“Fundraisers often fall into the trap of talking ‘tea and sympathy,’” says Anne Melvin, director of training and education for Harvard University's Department of Alumni Affairs and Development (Cambridge, MA). “You need to focus on what it is you're raising money for and weave that into the conversation as much as possible.” In her more than two decades of experience fundraising on behalf of various nonprofits, Melvin has learned how to drive these points home when time is of the essence.A preliminary qualifying visit will help fundraisers determine whether additional time and resources should be spent on that prospect. A qualified candidate will possess these qualities: wealth, a philanthropic spirit and interest in your charity.“Check ‘yes’ on all three boxes, and it's time to schedule a cultivation visit,” Melvin says. Time becomes critical, as it is now up to the fundraiser to persuade the prospect to provide financial support.Melvin offers tips for making time count during cultivation visits:Show, don't tell. “Tell compelling stories and let your prospect draw their own conclusions on how they can make an impact,” Melvin says. “Instead of listing facts or reasons why you need money, tell stories that effectively demonstrate your need.”Listen. “Extroverts should follow this rule: For every one sentence spoken, let your prospect reply with three sentences,” Melvin says. “If you spend more than 25 percent of the time talking, you're likely to miss out on key reasons why the donor is motivated to provide support.”Solicit advice. “In fundraising we say, ‘Ask for money and you'll get advice, but ask for advice and you'll get money,’” Melvin says. “People are less inclined to meet when they anticipate an ask, but they will almost always be willing to share helpful opinions.”Pause for emotional moments. “You'll know you've hit a nerve when the prospect becomes passionate,” Melvin says. “Use this pause to invite more open‐ended questions that will lead you down the honey trail. It's hard to turn apathy into a gift, but even anger can lead to financial rewards.”Secure a follow‐up visit. “Do not leave without uncovering a good reason to follow up,” Melvin says. “Fill your thank‐you notes with specific comments and findings from your cultivation visit and make every correspondence ring true to the personal connection you've built.”Source: Anne Melvin, Director of Training and Education, Alumni Affairs and Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Phone (617) 495‐8860. E‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.harvard.edu
Successful Fundraising – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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