A Fundraiser’s Journey: Off You Go

Kelly Updike for PCNRC, A Fundraiser’s Journey seriesKelly pic

So. It’s time. You’ve established a relationship with a potential donor, who’s agreed to meet with you to discuss a project or programming need at your organization. Woot! That’s the hardest part.

Yet. Your knees are knocking. Your heart is pounding. Palms are sweaty.

Yup, been there, done that. Still doing it.

You’re on your way. To make the Ask.

And, remember:

  • Go over your notes. You did a lot of research about this potential donor and know s/he is passionate about your organization and able to give a gift.
  • Rehearse. Write it all down. Say it out loud. Role-play with another person or three.
  • Don’t go alone. Take another staffer, board member or committed volunteer. Make sure this person also has made a gift to your project. Discuss strategy, determine who is saying what and get the conversational flow down. Handouts are fine but not mandatory. Discuss answers to potential questions, including no, not now or I’m not sure.
  • Make. The. Ask. “Would you consider a gift of [insert specific amount of money you think this donor would be able to give]?” You gotta ask the question. Got to. If you freeze up, have a plan for the person with you to step in and make the request or to bring the conversation back to you so you can get the words out. People want to help. And they like to be asked.
  • Wait … wait … wait. You’ve asked the question. Shhhh, don’t talk now. Be silent. Feel awkward? Too bad, be quiet. Then listen to the potential donor’s comments, questions or concerns before answering them.
  • Make a follow-up action step. Be prepared for any answer and so be ready to make another appointment (make it right there!) if the potential donor wants to think about it. If s/he says yes, discuss how to formalize the gift acknowledgment or the timing of the gift.
  • Say thank you! In person and later in writing. Even if it’s no or not now.

There are many, many, many resources to help you prepare for the Ask. Below are several websites. And there are books which provide Q&A scripts and scenarios. Of course, the Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center has lots of materials and a great staff, go there!

Online Resources:





The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

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