This October, the Donor By Design team is tackling spooky situations in development. Join us this month for hair-raising stories and cautionary tales of frightful fundraising!
I have the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people as part of my work helping not-for-profits fund their causes.
A few years back I had the opportunity to interview a Fortune 500 CEO as part of the training I do to help encourage staff and volunteers to be better “askers” for their causes. When I do these interviews I like to ask the question: Have you ever had a bad experience being asked for money?
The CEO leaned back and shared this story …
At one point my family and I were newer to the community but most folks knew that we were people of faith and joyful members of a local parish. One day a local private Catholic high school came to visit me at my office. I was happy to meet with them. Quickly into the visit (this is the first time we had met) the conversation turned to the capital campaign they were running and their need for additional support. The Head of School slid a letter across the table which asked for a $1MM contribution. In the header of the letter and throughout, they misspelled my name.
Then, the local parish priest who accompanied the Head of School locked eyes with me and said God would be disappointed if I didn’t make this gift to the school.
Needless to say, this school never received the support they were seeking.
This may rank as one of the most scary and disastrous fundraising stories I’ve ever been told. Can you imagine?
How do you make sure you aren’t starring in a similar fundraising horror flick?
- Know thy prospect! Names matter, spelling matters. Make sure it’s right – twice!
- Speed dating doesn’t work in major gift fundraising. This could have gone far differently if this visit was just one to meet each-other and test donor interest – perhaps resulting in a school tour along with the CEO’s spouse.
- Giving should be joyous and not driven by guilt or obligation. Never use the obligation card. Never.
- Visualize the meeting and how the prospect might feel. How would you feel with the approach you are contemplating?
Scare tactics – and frighteningly bad donor information – don’t work. We can do better!