Do you want to ask for a major gift like University of Queensland and Australian National University? Major gift expert Tony Myers explains three key steps to a successful major gift ask.

People, not corporations, give the most amount of money to charities on an annual basis. I have made a career out of asking people to support a cause and I love listening to donors and asking for money.

There are three things a major gift fundraiser must do to ensure a successful ask:

1.    Voice, not text, the medium for conversations

The process starts by having conversations, either by telephone or in person, when possible. Sending text messages and e-mails just doesn’t cut it. The best way to engage major donors and high-net-worth individuals is to have physical conversations.

It is about having conversations about the donor’s interests; about what is important to them; about what excites them and about what they are passionate about. To find answers to those questions we have to listen.  I believe major gift fundraising is about listening, not pitching.

2.    Don’t pitch, listen

I actually hate to hear fundraisers talk about pitching to potential major donors. It’s not that we don’t want to tell others about our work and about our cause, but if we have the right conversations with the right people, we will never have to pitch again.

All we have to do is listen and we can normally find out everything we need to know to ask for a major gift and be successful. So have conversations and listen to what people say.

3.    Remember the five Ws

So, if you are having conversations and you are listening, then what are you listening for? I never walk into a major donor meeting without an agenda and while it may change from meeting-to-meeting, it always includes the ‘five Ws’.

The ‘five Ws’ are the five questions you want to answer before asking for a major gift:

•    Who can ask and get a ‘yes’?
•    Who do I ask in order to get a ‘yes’?
•    What amount do I ask for in order to get a ‘yes’?
•    What particular project or initiative will most likely get me a ‘yes’?
•    When is the best time to ask to get a ‘yes’?

Major gift fundraising is easy if we can remember to have conversations, listen to our donors and seek the answers to the five critical things we want to know before we ask for a major gift.

Tony Myers CFRE is principal and senior fundraising counsel at Myers & Associates. An expert in major gift fundraising, you can learn more about how you too can be successful in major gift fundraising and how to engage major donors and high-net-worth individuals when he presents in Australia at next month’s Fundraising Institute Australia Conference in Sydney from March 7-9.

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