The Three-step Solicitation Meeting

October 2014

I’ve written several blogs about the importance of cultivating relationships in effective fund raising. Now comes the moment when the rubber hits the road! The solicitation.

Once we have identified a potential donor, or would like to revisit a former donor to see if we can renew their gift, (perhaps at a higher level), we are ready to make an appointment. This should be done by the person on the board who has the best relationship with the donor.

The meeting should consist of the potential donor, the Board contact, and the development director or Executive Director. The Board contact should initiate the contact. The meeting should take place in an informal environment. This will be a friendly meeting, a relationship-building meeting, and if a gift is the result, so much the better. But don’t consider the meeting a failure if no gift results. It may take more cultivating.

At the meeting

Step One: Introductions

The goal of this step is to create a relaxed atmosphere. The starting point is a discussion between two friends, with the Board contact asking questions, (how are the kids, business, vacation, special family events, etc). We are getting more information on the donor and creating a relaxed environment. Then the Board contact moves into the explanation for the meeting.

Step Two: Familiarization with the agency

In this step the Board contact opens with an explanation of why he/she is involved in this agency and what he/she has learned about the agency through this involvement. Then he/she tells a story about the impact on those the agency serve’s gleaned from what he/she has learned as a board member. Some material might be presented. Then he/she will talk about why they feel that it is so important to support the work of the agency.

Step Three: The Solicitation

This is the role of the staff, Executive Director or Development Director. He/she will discuss the agency’s case for giving, the current and future needs of the agency, and perhaps one specific need that might interest the prospect. The language should focus on providing an opportunity for the donor to support the important work of the agency. Material outlining the various giving levels should be shown, i.e. Gold, Silver, Bronze, with the amount set for each. Based on a previous discussion about the anticipated giving level expected from this donor, go to the one level above it. The staff will say something like, “We hope you will consider being a Gold member”.

There will be a moment of silence. Wait for the prospect to say something. Depending what the reaction is, thanks should be expressed, and further contact promised. End by asking for any questions or clarification and what opportunities there are to get further involved, including as a donor.

Best of luck.

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