When people think of fundraising, they usually are thinking about The Ask – and that can be very intimidating. This month, the Donor By Design Team is taking on How to Ask. Today, Robin reminds us to take the time to prepare our volunteers, and ourselves.
In the course of preparing for a campaign, recruiting volunteers is a critical step. But once you’ve recruited them, how do you prepare them to ask for money on your behalf?
Understand your “why”
Understanding how your organization, church or not-for-profit is addressing needs in individuals and in the community helps volunteers to tell the story. Provide opportunities for the volunteers to experience your cause through your programs and services. Mission impact stories and touring programs puts “a face to the case” – bringing the work of your organization to life.
Tap into their passion and it will create excitement, enthusiasm and confidence. Your volunteers will be able to relate their own personal experiences to connect with prospective donors.
Prepare for your visit
Making a connection with a prospective donor takes time. Each visit should be custom tailored to the prospective donor’s interests. It is okay to do research and learn more about the individual’s passion, community involvement and establish a connection to the organization.
Every donor meeting should have an objective; even if it is just getting to know the donor. During the visit, talk about program or ministry benefits and impacts, not just dollars needed.
Volunteers can explore the donor’s history, utilize their expertise for feedback on projects and find out what the prospective donor’s giving priorities are. The conversation should develop naturally and focus on what’s important to the donor. Before the meeting, make sure to allow time for volunteers to practice, role play and feel comfortable with the process.
Making the Ask
Plan out with your volunteers ahead of time if an ask will be made and who will make it (if you’re going along on the visit). If a visit is just meant to be cultivation, make that clear to the volunteer. If an ask is going to be part of the process, review the amount with the volunteer ahead of time. Remind them that after asking, the best thing to do is be quiet and “listen the gift” rather than back-peddling or rushing the discussion.
Plan Next Steps
Regardless of the intent of a donor visit, the volunteer should have a clear sense of what next steps are. Maybe it’s a follow-up meeting, or a visit to a program site. It could be a follow up on the gift. Whatever the case, everyone should leave the meeting with a clear sense of what comes next.
Volunteers are the foundation for successful fundraising. Your volunteers need to feel knowledgeable and confident. Making the ask requires preparation, but that preparation will pay dividends in your campaign success, and your volunteers’ experience.