Whether it’s a voice inside your head, or someone else’s voice, you should not compromise your plan when it comes to asking a prospect for a major gift.
Recently, a client and I discussed a strategy for a major gift solicitation. We agreed that we would ask for $100K. The development director, we’ll call her Kay, was taking the board chair to the meeting, who is very positive (usually). He said he was uncomfortable with the amount in this case but would go to the meeting anyway.
We assured Kay that the amount was a realistic stretch given the information we had accumulated from different sources. Kay agreed. But then she asked her boss, who hates to ask for money, and he made a face! We all know what that’s like.
By this time, Kay was at the $50K level and dropping. Kay got the call from the board chair. He would not be joining her. Kay did not call us, so I still thought she was ok. With only a few hours until the meeting, Kay got her COO to join her. Kay now went into the meeting with the intention of asking for only $25K. She was anxious about asking for too much .
Kay remembered us telling her to listen to the prospect during the meeting; that they will give clues as you explain the project and the impact their gift will make. He did give clues. After talking about his new boat and new vacation house, Kay bumped up her ask to $50K. The prospect said “yes” and added that he could probably do more than $50K. Have you had that happen to you…yet?
It is alright to change the ask amount at the meeting based on clear communication from the prospect. But you should never listen to any “voices” ahead of time. It will only lead to lost opportunity.
It’s fun to count the money you do raise, but impossible to count what you leave on the table.
Are you asking enough?
Written by: John J. Corcoran, President & CEO at D’Alessandro, Inc.