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Strengthen Your Personal Solicitation Skills
Personal solicitation is the most effective way for charitable
organizations to solicit gifts, especially major gifts, and the
skillset required involves both a scientific and artistic approach.
“The science behind personal solicitation, whether
conducted by a leadership staff member or a volunteer,
involves properly preparing for the solicitation through
research, training, experience and strategy,” says Hudson Akin,
executive director of the capital campaign, Office of
Advancement, Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN). “And the
artistic side of personal solicitation lies in the ability to
skillfully communicate and connect with prospective donors.”
Akin suggests there are five key components of effective
1. Achieving the initial appointment with the prospect. It is
easy for prospects to ignore a phone call, e-mail or letter
from someone they have never met. It’s important for the
development team to identify a connection, either a
professional colleague or personal friend or social
acquaintance. Once the connection has been established,
the donor prospect research has been completed and you
are ready to schedule the initial meeting, a phone call
works best, followed by a confirmation letter or e-mail. Do
not shy away from informing the prospect of the purpose
of the visit.
2. Developing the donor solicitation strategy. This step
involves research and preparation. Identify a project or
need that corresponds with the donor’s interests and
prepare a presentation that is thorough and heartfelt and
displays the impact the donor will have on people’s lives.
3. Soliciting the gift. In almost any person-to-person
interaction, the opening will determine the outcome. The
initial objective in the solicitation meeting is to engage with
the donor, solidify the connection with the cause or
institution and put the prospect at ease. Get the donor
talking about his or her family, career or passions. Rely on
the carefully prepared presentation and ask for the gift.
4. Overcoming donor objections. Be prepared for prospective
donors to object to the amount of the request (too much),
the timing (now is not a good time to give), the publicity
surrounding the gift (opening myself to other solicitations)
or other hurdles. Come to the meeting with alternatives,
such as a multi-year pledge, payment in six to 12 months,
anonymous giving or a smaller donation.
5. Closing the gift. Many donors require a great deal of
follow-up after the initial meeting. An e-mail or
personalized letter should go out, thanking the prospective
donor for their time and interest, within 24 hours of the
initial solicitation meeting. If the solicitation request needs
to be modified, confirm it in the letter. After no more than
three to five days, a phone call is essential to close the gift
Source: Hudson Akin, Executive Director of the Capital Campaign,
Office of Advancement, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN.
Phone (615) 966-5090. Website: www.lipscomb.edu
What Real Estate Gifts Would Entail
Of the $10-$14 trillion that economists estimate will pass
from one generation to the next in the years before 2025,
approximately 35-40 percent is in real estate, outstripping
both publicly traded and closely held stock portfolios.
“Charitable institutions should definitely consider
gifts of real estate as a significant part of the set of
possible contributions by donors,” says Larry Fox,
president and CEO of the Kansas State University
(KSU; Manhattan, KS) Charitable Real Estate
According to Fox, two substantial attributes make
real estate gift programs imperative for charitable
1. The inherent value of real estate far exceeds that of
any other single asset, both in the aggregate and, in
many instances, in individual portfolios of
prospective donors. Real estate continues to be an
extremely valuable asset even though the value of
real property may vary over time as market
conditions, utility restrictions, legal requirements and
demand might dictate.
2, The second significant attribute of real estate is its
abundance. Even people with relatively small estates
generally own real estate and are prospective donors,
and wealthier people often own multiple real estate
“It is critical to establish boundaries and parameters
within which a real estate gift program will operate,” says
Fox. “Clearly articulating the steps needed to analyze and
evaluate a potential gift of real estate and the terms
under which such a gift might occur helps both to avoid
potential pitfalls and allay the concerns of boards of
trustees or directors about such gifts.”
When it is determined that a specific gift of real
estate is in compliance with the policies of the KSU
Charitable Real Estate Foundation, Fox states that the
following steps need to be taken before ownership of the
property is transferred:
1. At the donor’s expense, the property must be
appraised by a licensed real estate appraiser.
2. The property should be inspected by an officer or
staff member of the foundation to determine if a
more extensive environmental assessment is in order.
3. An ownership certificate must be obtained from a
local title company and a warranty deed must be
prepared and submitted.
4. Legal documents must be prepared by the foundation
to meet the needs of the transaction.
Source: Larry D. Fox, President and CEO, Kansas State
University Charitable Real Estate Foundation, Manhattan, KS.
Phone (785) 532-7541. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.