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Successful Solicitation Techniques

Article By William C. Krueger

Leadership Gifts First – Solicit and receive gifts that are either larger, or come from prominent people first. People follow leaders – secure their support and the other donors will follow.

Recruit Great Leaders – People give to people, not necessarily to causes. If you get the right people involved (peers of potential major donors), major gifts will naturally follow.

Peer Solicitations Only – People respond best when asked by a peer to help a project. You don't want to intimidate the prospect by having him/her solicited by someone "superior" to them. Nor should someone who is "junior" in status or social standing solicit a prospect. Who asks is extremely important.

Solicit Only In Pairs – Face-to-face fund raising can be daunting and is accomplished more comfortably in pairs. By having two people on the solicitation visit, one is evaluating the reaction of the prospect while the other one is talking. If one solicitor forgets an important part of the process, the second one can jump in. The process just works better in pairs.

Only Personal Visits, Never Solicit Over the Phone – If it is important enough to ask, it is important enough to visit in person. If you are too busy to visit in person and explain the case fully, chances are the prospect won't take it seriously either. Solicitations over the phone cheapen the process.

Ask for a Specific Gift – Nothing is worse than asking for support, but not being specific. Let the prospect know what you would like them to consider, why you are asking for that amount, and how that gift would fit into the overall campaign. Spend as much time thinking about the ask as explaining the case.

Offer Commemorative Opportunities – Even when donors say that recognition doesn't matter, most people like to be recognized for a helping a great cause. As a general rule, most people will not give you a gift just because they get something named for them. But if they believe in your case, they may give more if the recognition offered is meaningful.

Importance of Major Gifts

Major gifts will be the key to any successful campaign.

Major gifts establish credibility and give the leaders a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Major gifts also set the tone for other donors' giving patterns.

Most campaigns can be summarized using the 80-20 rule. This rule says that 80% of the funds raised will come from 20% of the donors making gifts.

For example, a traditional $10,000,000 campaign would need a lead gift of 10%, or about $1,000,000. It would also need two gifts of $500,000 to bring the total to $2,000,000. The next five gifts should total about $1,500,000, or $300,000 apiece. (The top ten gifts should equal about 50% of the goal).

If a $10,000,000 campaign can secure these gifts, the remaining gifts should be fairly easy to find.

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