Three ways fundraisers can get ready to ask a donor for a major gift.
So much of what we do comes down to nerve.
Sure, preparation is paramount. Days, weeks, months and even years of research ensure that we head into that ask meeting with a bag full of tools to ensure the best outcome possible.
But having the nerve is something else. I am not sure if we develop it, or are born with it, but all of the best fundraisers (or askers for that matter) have it.
So what can you do to steel your nerve for that big ask? Here are my top three tips.
1. BE ORGANISED
Have everything you need on hand.
Nothing says desperation like someone digging through a pile of documents trying to find that piece of paper that they need to show a prospect.
It is important to only take to the meeting what you will need – in most cases a Case for Support document, an annual report and perhaps another person to add weight and gravitas to the ask (or to do the asking). Have these in a neat folder, in an order which makes sense to you.
By being organised you will feel more confident that you have all of the basis covered for whatever might come your way.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
If you are going to practice anything, make it your ask.
Stand in front of a mirror, or even better test it with a colleague. Out loud. When we practice out loud we are able to hear the sincerity in our voice and ensure clarity of message and speech. Doing this with someone else can also highlight where more information is needed.
Having a succinct and clear ask (or even a couple of asks in case the conversation highlights a change in ask is required!) prepared is so important to your confidence levels when making an ask.
3. LOOK & ACT THE PART
I don’t just mean wear appropriate attire… although this is very important. Some meetings will require you to dress up, while others might require you to wear the team uniform or a particular cultural outfit – ensure that whatever it is, it is what represents you and your organisation in the best light in front of the prospect.
Perhaps more importantly, stand tall, smile and act professionally. It is amazing what good posture and good body language can do for your confidence and others confidence in you.
Walk into that meeting as the equal of the prospect, they will respect you for it.
And even if you don’t feel it… act brave. You know what they say – fake it ‘til you make it!
Teisha Archer is a fundraising coach and consultant specialising in major gifts and campaigns and Director of Teisha Archer Consulting. Teisha is also a Specialist Consultant Member of The Xfactor Collective – Australia’s first network of social impact consultants and coaches across 300 areas of specialisation that exists to support social changemakers to achieve their social mission. The Xfactor Collective has the sector’s first CONCIERGE service to help you get your projects off to a flying start, and a sector-first video library THE X-CHANGE., comprising 140 helpful videos for changemakers such as the links above in this article.