Whew! We’ve covered a lot of ground this week and I have more for you still.
We’ll to get into today’s topic soon, but first, do you need to catch up? Here’s a summary of where we’ve been:
- 3 keys to a healthy major gifts pipeline
- How to get more out of your pipeline
- A simple technique for getting more donor meetings (feeding your pipeline)
As you can tell, the week’s conversation has centered on getting you more major gifts. And we’ve paid particular attention to your pipeline. How do you build one that delivers big gifts now? And how do you sustain your success into the future?
Well, we’re four days in and we’ve really only scratched the surface.
Want to take a deeper dive? You can.
Just yesterday, many readers took advantage of a special opportunity. And in the process, they made a commitment to growing their major gifts programs.
They joined my brand new course called Building Your Major Gifts Pipeline. Enrollment just opened. You can CLICK HERE for more details.
OK, let’s get into today’s topic…
The Word of the Day Is: Relevance
Prospects are more likely to take a meeting with you if your outreach is relevant—relevant to them.
Your organization has a wonderful mission and, yes, everyone should care. But that doesn’t happen automatically.
As gift officers, we often need to help prospects get a vision for how they fit in. And this can be tricky because these are busy people!
So, the more our prospects perceive our outreach to be relevant, the better.
What do I mean?
Relevant outreach answers the “why?” questions. Why me? Why now? And, How can I help you?
At this point, the goal-oriented side of us wants to scream, “You could write a check!”
But that’s not always the best place to start, is it? It’s certainly not a recipe for making people feel valued.
We’ve said it before, face-to-face donor meetings is where the magic happens in major gifts work. They’re where prospects get into your pipeline and what propels them through.
Relevant outreach will get you more face-to-face meetings.
So, how do make sure you’re relevant?
1. Find a connection between your prospect’s expertise and your organization
Giving typically follows engagement. People would rather be valued for their expertise or their service than their money—at least initially. This is why your board members and other volunteers are your best donors.
So, when reaching out to new prospects, ask for “advice visits.” The concept is simple: you reach out on the basis of wanting someone’s advice, perspective, or opinion. Do they have experience to share in finance or marketing? How about organizing events?
By taking this approach, you make your prospects feel valued for their knowledge and expertise. It’s a great way to start a relationship.
2. Offer access to people your prospects want to meet
Consider who in your orbit your prospects might want to meet. Or just get to know a little better. Your chief executive? One of your board members? Someone on the program side?
You will (obviously) have to partner with whoever it is you’re offering access to. But, think carefully about the opportunity. Breakfast or lunch is nice, but may be too much to start. Consider more casual arrangements. For example, is one of your board members giving a talk somewhere? You might be able to get prospects into the talk and arrange an opportunity to shake hands with your board member afterwards.
3. Offer a value-added social or educational experience
Some prospects will have more interest in access to places events, or experiences. What unique things is your organization doing to fulfill its mission? Can you build a compelling, one-of-a-kind experience around them and invite prospects to join in?
And don’t forget that the donors and volunteers in your orbit have access to experiences your prospects would be interested in. Pick your spots carefully, but consider how and where you might ask for a favor.
Overcoming a Common Objection
As you’re reaching out, you will hear objections. The more relevant you are the fewer you’ll encounter, but no fundraiser is immune.
One of the most common is, “Are you just looking for money?”
Don’t let this throw you off. In fact, I would much rather hear this than nothing at all. When prospects ask this question, they’re giving you a relevance test. In the back of their minds they can envision a relevant meeting with you and/or your organization—an interaction they would find compelling. But, they’re skeptical. After all, maybe you just want their money.
Use this opportunity to prove that you understand exactly how they feel. Show them that your goal is to involve them in a great experience—one that is richer and deeper than a financial transaction. Because, of course, there’s a great cause attached.
Well, that last bit sounded lofty, didn’t it? Let’s get practical.
Here’s a script I use to address this objection over the phone:
You know [Name], it is true that donations are important to our work, and we’re fortunate to have a community of people who support what we do. And, yes, we hope more will join us!
If now’s not the time to talk to you about a gift, I completely understand. But do you think I could still pay you a quick visit? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on a few other things, like [relevant item].
Here are some sample “relevant items” to give you ideas for how you might fill in that blank:
…the new marketing campaign we’ll launch next month. I understand you’ve been in the ad business for some time—I’m sure we’d benefit from your perspective.
… downtown real estate. We’re thinking about renting a space near the arts district because it would be a better location for our homelessness program.
…how we might build relationships with local officials. I hear you know everyone on the city council!
This script is effective for two reasons:
First, it’s honest about giving. You’re essentially saying, “Charitable support makes a difference here and, yes, we’re seeking more of it. But, we don’t need to start there.”
And second, it places your relevant item to the center of the conversation and positions your prospect as the hero. Or at least the expert. Offering advice is an easy win for your prospects. And you can help them feel great about giving it. Do this well and you’ll be much closer to getting what you really want.
Get More Scripts
Well, that’s just one part of one of my word-for-word scripts. I have plenty more for you. And like the example above, they’re all designed to pass the relevance test.
I’ve also put together a rubric of seven highly relevant outreach strategies, complete with a guidance for how and when to use each one.
It’s all packaged together and it’s all part of the new course I mentioned at the top of this post. If you’ve found the material we’ve discussed over the last few days to be helpful, you’re going to love Building Your Major Gifts Pipeline.
It contains three modules and 90 minutes of all my best tips, tricks, and scripts for building a robust and sustainable major gifts pipeline.
Everything has been tested and proven to work at organizations large and small. All the material leverages best practices from sales, marketing, persuasion psychology and fundraising.
The Building Your Major Gifts Pipeline course will help you and your organization get more big gifts both now and in the future. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment below if you have any questions about how you can set up your own major gifts pipeline. It’s worth it. Invest a bit of time and energy now and reap the benefits for years to come.