By Mel Shaw and Pearl Shaw, CFRE
Successful fundraising is about people giving to your organization. In almost all cases giving is preceded by an “ask.” Someone asks someone to make a gift. Someone says yes. That’s it.
The person who makes the ask is referred to as a solicitor. The solicitor’s responsibility is to ask specific people to make a donation. These are usually people the solicitor knows or has a relationship with. Our favorite story is of a man who has a list of 10 people who he solicits each year. In the fall he schedules lunch with each person. He closes each lunch asking for a gift, each person says “yes,” and he has done his good deed. The nonprofit is grateful, and he is a prized solicitor.
The key to this process is finding the right people to ask others to give to your organization. Remember: you are asking people to make an ask on your behalf: you too have to ask!
And you have to do more than ask. You also have to provide solicitors with the materials and information they need to be most effective: you can’t send people out unprepared. It is your responsibility to make sure your solicitors are well equipped to represent you in the marketplace instead of shooting from the hip. Doing so builds the professionalism of your organization and the confidence and ability of your volunteer solicitors.
Here’s a well-known secret: most people don’t like to solicit. As you build a team of solicitors you will find that at least half don’t want to ask. They are both willing and unwilling at the same time. Such is life. Your job is to prepare them and build their confidence, so they overcome feelings of “I just don’t like to make the ask.” Here are ten things we recommend that you provide your campaign solicitors with.
- The most updated information on each potential donor. This includes their past giving and involvement history and their interests
- Talking points on what to highlight when promoting your organization
- Information on your giving priorities: what is the most important fundraising goal for your organization at this time
- Information on what to do when someone says “yes”
- A “FAQ” or frequently asked questions document that answers questions about your organization
- Contact information for solicitors to use if they need to talk with someone at your organization
- Giving envelops, pledge forms, or a link to an online giving page
- Organizational marketing materials (printed or online)
- Video clips of different lengths that they can play or send to prospective donors
- A PowerPoint presentation or “deck” that they can share with a potential donor when talking about your organization (online and hard copy)
Your solicitors are like gold: make sure you take the time to prepare them and support them. They will thank you, your donors will give, and those who benefit are the people you serve.
Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw