The more confident you are, the more likely you are to clinch a deal that is a win-win for both sides. Gaining confidence means taking the time and finding a lot of reasons to connect and to create and build the relationship, co-creating a shared vision.
If you want to create a relationship, plan for and anticipate your excuses to connect, identifying ideal opportunities to strengthen ties and detect shared areas of interest. Ideally, every year you would connect and communicate with your donor about 7 times, or roughly every 2 months.
1. Learning about you– Tell me, what’s important to you?
Whether in person or virtually, any excuse to connect in a disinterested way generates interest. Avoid speaking about issues that serve you, and focus on “dancing”, conversing with the donor and discovering topics that are of interest to them. Listen without expecting anything in return and go with the flow. Take note of everything they tell you.
2. Thank you– Do you know how important your support is for this project/ cause?
Say thank you from a place of sincerity, honesty and humility, and most of all, get creative with the way you do it. Some fundraisers send a picture that creates an impact, a thought-provoking video, or a phrase that invites contemplation, together with their thank you note.
3. Please– Would you like to take part in designing the pilot project?
Asking for help builds relationships and connects us to each other. Our donors like us to take their opinion into account by inviting them to contribute ideas that they can then help us promote.
4. I’m sorry – How do you feel when someone apologizes for having overlooked you?
Be proactive and apologize when you haven’t been up to par, or have simply made a mistake.
The essence of wisdom lies in correcting one’s errors. Whatever channel you use to do it, apologize and make sure your donor has accepted and understood, by asking them how your apology has landed with them.
5. Best wishes– How are you going to enjoy this very special day?
If you like getting a call on your birthday, when you get promoted, or when you have a new baby, do the same with your donors. It’s a gesture that shows you remember them and care about them. Add your own personal touch to the call or to the greeting card you send them. Be memorable. Surprise them.
6. Gifts– What’s it like to receive a surprise, out of the blue?
Giving a gift is about surprising the receiver with something they can identify with and get excited about. You could surprise a donor who has supported a social cause by introducing to them the student who was awarded a scholarship thanks to their support.
7. Thinking of you…– Remember the days when we used to work together?
Never write off a relationship. We can revive a relationship with a lost donor if we give them a reason to reconnect. Do so by bringing them up to date on projects you’ve already delivered, and in particular, on any future challenges you’re pursuing.
In conclusion, getting donors is about engaging them and connecting, always with a view to building projects together that embody the essence and strategy of both sides. And if you put your heart into it, these projects will also have a soul.
Silvia Bueso is a certified professional coach, an expert in the Art of Asking. She helps nonprofit leaders to effectively make the ask in a way that allows them to achieve their teams’, projects’ and organizations’ objectives.