A face-to-face solicitation is by far the most effective method of asking a prospect for a gift. This face-to-face solicitation guide outlines effective steps board members, volunteers, and staff can take to enhance their ask.
Preparing for your ask
Before you start soliciting your prospect, collect and organize your information. Include the following:
- Make sure you have relevant and updated background on your prospect.
- Review your prospect’s giving history, including giving to your cause and to other causes.
- Set a specific asking amount that is appropriate to your prospect’s giving history and circumstances.
- When you set up your visit, let your prospect know that you are meeting with him/her to ask for a gift.
- Meet with you prospect at his/her office or home.
- Prepare solicitation materials that you can share with your prospect and leave behind.
- Write a solicitation script, which serves as your roadmap. Refrain from bringing it to the visit.
Visiting your prospect
When you meet with your donor, make sure you stay within your allotted timeframe:
- Thank your prospect for his/her time to meet with you.
- Talk positively about your organization, projects, and challenges.
- Reference your prospect’s interest or prior investment and thank him/her for his/her support.
- Ask for a specific amount and for a specific purpose.
- Discuss the impact of the gift.
Communicating your ask
Asking prospects for a gift takes time and practice. Use these tips to connect with your prospect:
- Make sure you are enthusiastic about visiting your prospect but be authentic.
- Be personal. Always use the first-person plural “we” when you talk about your organization.
- Make eye contact.
- Make a compelling case using common words. Stay away from jargon.
- When you ask for a gift, use the phrase “would you consider an investment of……”
- After you ask for a gift, remain silent.
If your prospect says no:
- Be understanding.
- Ask for advice.
- Find out what your organization can do differently to elicit a gift from your prospect.
- Be sympathetic with complaints and offer to provide additional information.
- Do not argue with your prospect.
- Offer your prospect a follow up with him/her.
- Thank your prospect for his/her time and input.
If your prospect says maybe:
- Arrange for a time to check back with him/her.
- Thank your prospect for his/her time again.
If your prospect says yes:
- Thank your prospect for the gift.
- Summarize the benefits of the gift.
- Let your prospect know that you will follow up with him/her about the gift arrangement.
- Thank your prospect for his/her time and gift once more.
Following up with your prospect
Regardless what the outcome of your visit is, always send a personal note – preferably handwritten – and thank your prospect for having taken the time to meet with you. Proceed with the following:
- Outline the next steps you need to take with your prospect.
- Respond to questions or complaints that were raised by your prospect during the visit.
- Schedule the next visit.