“It is only through a wholesome discontent with things as they are, that we ever try to make them any better.”
— SUSAN B. ANTHONY
I genuinely enjoy speaking with donors, especially when they aren’t the prospect of one of our clients. I can ask questions about their giving, which helps me understand the donor’s mindset even better.
In the last few weeks, several people have asked me how I feel about the technique at events where people raise a paddle or their hand to make a gift. The speaker calls out gift ranges and starts high and waits for someone to say “yes” to that amount. I’ve seen this done with texting, too. Gift amounts are put on a big screen in the room with the donor’s name next to the amount. I think this can be problematic. One donor told me she was so offended by the process that she will never go to another function or support that organization. I’ve also seen donors with high capacity (six-figure gift potential) make a $5,000 commitment, which leaves money on the table.
I spoke to one donor who said this was new to him. I asked if he would have given more if he had a person visit, and he said yes. Actually, he would have given at least double to what he committed to giving with his paddle. He is nearing 80 years old and said he couldn’t make regular gifts because his “money comes in bunches.” He is retired and owns a lot of real estate, so when he needs some money, he sells some of those assets. He uses those assets to make a gift. So, if his money comes to him in this way, the charity probably would have been better off to preselect those major gift prospects in the room and meet with them before the event—then let them decide if they want to do more. It’s hard to go back after you make an ask, and they have determined and committed what they will do.
Are you taking time before your events and looking to see where the most significant major gift potential is in the room? Do you really want someone at the podium to do an ask, hoping that person will make a major gift? Probably not the best way to approach it, but many charities are doing it and raising more money at their events, but what are they leaving on the table?
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