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Ask Andrea: "High Roller" Donor Tactics

Ask Andrea: High Roller Donor TacticsWelcome to the final installment in the 2015 Ask Andrea series. In the new year, instead of answering your questions, I will publish my most in-demand blog posts on capital campaign fundraising.

But now, let's get to the question of the month. It's a doozy!

Dear Andrea,

I’m new to the development field and get so nervous when making asks for our “high roller” donors, but I know it’s important for me to put my energies where the real money is. Any advice on how I can overcome my newbie fears and reach the top of that donor pyramid? ~Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First, if you're not willing to step forward and ask a question in your own name, you must be timid indeed!

It's no wonder you worry about talking to "high roller" donors. Timidity and fear hold many people back and keep them doing all sorts of things they'd like to do.

A Strategy to Build a bit of Courage

Before I make suggestions about fundraising, I encourage you to envision yourself as someone else. Someone with more courage. It's a fun exercise and just by imagining yourself in someone else's skin, you might start to exercise your courage muscles.

Take a look at this post to see who I'm envisioning myself as right now!

Imagine Yourself as Sherlock Holmes

Before you ask anyone for money, you've got to understand what the donor would like. That takes a bit of Sherlock Holmes research. You've got to know at least the answers to these three questions:

  • Why would they want to invest in your organization?
  • Who would they like to speak with about their investment?
  • What would make the donor feel great?

Once you've done your homework and found out the answer to those questions, the rest gets much easier. You'll know who to involve and what to ask for.

When you ask a donor for something from the position of their interests and desires, the chances of your succeeding will be very high. Because you'll be asking the donor to do something they want to do!

And if you can't figure out why a particular donor might want to give, then don't ask them for a big gift. It's really that simple.

Put that in your Sherlock Holmes pipe and smoke it for a bit.

Then, find the courage to look outside of yourself and to learn more about your donors.

May the Force be With You.


Ask Andrea: "High Roller" DOnor Tactics Andrea Kihlstedt, author and co-founder, AskingMatters.com

The preceding is a guest post by Andrea Kihlstedt, who loves to help people solve their fundraising problems. She has provided advice and friendly encouragement to lots of people over her 30+ years in the fundraising business. She’s also written four books on fundraising. Andrea lives in New York City with her husband. You can find her at Capital Campaign Magic.

Topics: Fundraising
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