Guest Post by Kent Stroman

Note from Bob:  If you are involved in Fundraising then December is “Harvest Time” – the month where nearly one third (31%) of Annual Giving occurs.  How do you decide how much ($) you should ask for?  My friend Kent Stroman shares some very timely advice!

The area in which we most often guess and assume…and then get it wrong…is with respect to the amount of the gift.

Somewhere along the way, two wrong alternatives came to be widely accepted:

  • “Any amount is okay.”
  • “We need to make up an amount, because we have to ask for something specific!”

Both of these are problematic. The first is just a lie, albeit a commonly believed lie. Amount does matter. It matters for you as the organization, and it matters for your potential donors!

The second wrong alternative often leads to us asking for the highest amount on the gift chart. They can afford it, and we need that lead gift, right? But, starting there may not be the best plan either. What if your gift chart is too high for this particular donor for this particular project? What if it isn’t high enough?

Only one person can effectively answer the question about amount: the donor!

One way to address this topic is by asking:

“At the appropriate time, what range of gift should we be talking about?” 

This question should come after you define the project, the price tag, and show them a gift chart. In your conversation about their range, they will generally talk to you about a low to high amount. Having this information allows you to ask more questions:

“What might get you to the top of the range?”

“What factors could push you towards the bottom?”

We mustn’t be in the business of assuming or guessing when it comes to our donors. We can and should formulate questions that will allow our donors to bring us inside the equation.  THEIR equation. This process cuts out assumptions and guesses and instead becomes a conversation. And, there’s value in having the conversation, no matter what the donor decides.

Kent Stroman is an experienced consultant specializing in major fundraising campaigns and board governance.  He is an inspirational speaker and the author of two books:  The Intentional Board: Why Your Board Doesn’t Work and How to Fix It and Asking About Asking: Mastering the Art of Conversational Fundraising.

 

 

 

 

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