We’ve covered a lot of ground this week and I have more for you still.
We’ll get into today’s topic soon, but first, do you need to catch up? Here’s a summary of where we’ve been:
- From Portfolio to Major Gifts Pipeline
- Your Outreach Roadmap
- ONE Simple Technique for Getting More Donor Meetings
Much of our conversation has centered around the need for frameworks, repeatable process, and productive habits. In a word: systems. Major Gifts Officers (MGOs) need reliable systems to help them take meaningful action toward their goals every single day.
Well, we’re four days in and we’ve really only scratched the surface.
Want to take a deeper dive? You can.
My brand-new course called The Systems of Success is now live and accepting new students. This course is installment #1 in Fearless Fundraising’s Ultimate Major Gifts Officer Boot Camp series. CLICK HERE for more details.
Let’s get into today’s topic…
Lest you think it’s all science and no art around here, I’m going to switch it up today. Because, of course, it’s both! The science, the systems, the structure behind the work—it’s all designed to put us in a position to build relationships. And, as we all know, relationship-building is more art than science.
So today, I want to show you how the art works within the science. Let’s get into it…
Relevant Prospect Outreach
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’s not where we start with most people. More often than not, it has to be about them before it can be about you.
So, as gift officers, we need to help prospects get a vision for how they fit in. It’s tricky work—these are busy people after all!
Relevant outreach answers the “why?” questions. Why me? Why now?
Answer these questions up front and you’ll get more donor meetings.
So, how do you make sure your outreach is relevant?
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 with event planning?
By taking this approach, you make your prospects feel valued for their knowledge and expertise. It’s a great way to start a relationship.
Offer access to people your prospects want to meet
Consider who in your orbit your prospects might want to meet or get to know a little better? Your chief executive? One of your board members? An expert on the program side?
Obviously you’ll need to partner with whoever it is you’re offering access to. So think carefully about the opportunity. Breakfast or lunch is nice, but that might be too much too soon for some prospects. Consider a Zoom call or some other, more-casual arrangement. 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 connect with your board member afterward.
Offer a value-added social or educational experience
Maybe it’s not as much access to people that will entice your prospect as it is access to places, events, or experiences. What interesting things is your organization doing? Can you build a compelling, one-of-a-kind experience around some of them and invite prospects to join in?
You’ll also want to consider your broader network. What relevant connections can you make for your prospects through your existing donors and volunteers? Pick your spots carefully, but consider how and where you might call in a favor.
Overcoming a Common Objection
As you’re reaching out, you will hear objections. Now, the more relevant you are, the fewer objections you’ll hear. But, nobody bats a thousand.
One question fundraisers get a lot is, “Are you just looking for money?”
Don’t be thrown off by this. In fact, I would much rather hear this than nothing at all. When prospects ask this question, they’re giving you a relevance test. They’re intrigued, but skeptical. After all, maybe you just want their money.
Use this opportunity to demonstrate that you understand exactly how they feel and 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.
Here’s a script I use to address the “Are you just looking for money?” objection over the phone:
Not today, [name]. Although it is true that donations make our work possible! Today, I’m calling simply to ask if I can get on your calendar.
You are/have had [something relevant about them]. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on [relevant reason for wanting to connect]. Do you think I could pay you a quick visit in the days or weeks ahead?
Here are some examples to get you thinking about how you might fill in those blanks above:
- You are a successful marketing and communications professional. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the new marketing campaign we’re planning to launch next month. We would benefit from your perspective.
- You are a member of the Class of 1982 and have a reunion coming up. Some of your classmates have asked me if you’re planning to attend. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can make it a memorable weekend for all involved.
- I understand you’re the guy to talk to about downtown real estate. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on some of the properties we’re thinking about renting near the arts district. We need a better location for our homelessness program.
- You know everyone on city council. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on how we might build stronger relationships with local officials.
This script is effective for two reasons:
At the top, it’s honest about giving. You’re essentially saying, “Charitable support makes a difference here, but you and I don’t need to start there.”
Second, it places your relevant item in the center of the conversation. And then positions your prospect as the hero. Or, at least, the expert. People love to give advice. And you can help them feel great about giving it. Do this well and you’ll be much closer to getting a gift.
Get More Scripts!
I have plenty more word-for-word scripts for you. And, like the examples 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 guidance for how and when to use each one.
It’s all packaged together as part of that new course I mentioned at the top of this email. If the material we’ve discussed in this tutorial has been helpful to you, you’re going to love The Systems of Success, which is course #1 in my Ultimate Major Gifts Officer Boot Camp series.
It contains three modules with over 120 minutes of video instruction, including a full set of phone, text message, and email scripts for conducting highly-relevant prospect outreach. You’ll get the systems; you’ll get the scripts—it’s everything an MGO needs to reach their full potential.
Everything in the course has been tested and proven to work at organizations large and small. And all the material leverages best practices from a variety of disciplines, including sales, marketing, persuasion psychology, and fundraising.
CLICK HERE to learn more about The Systems of Success and how it can help you and your organization get more big gifts, both now and in the future.