Asking for a major gift is best done in person.

Fundraising Two By Two - Volunteers and You

A Biblical Buddy System

Dear Mrs. Sanderson,

This is wonderful news! I had hoped that Mr. Jenson would want to get involved once he understood your vision for the food pantry. I did NOT expect him to commit to giving $100 per month, but this goes to show you… people will respond when you tell them your mission, your 'why'.

So you've got about $250 worth of monthly support committed and really need to get to $1,000. As a word of encouragement, do you realize that your committed support already totals $3,000 per year? Did you ever think you'd be able to raise that much money just by asking people? And we're really just getting started.

Now that Mr. Jenson has agreed to help, I want to propose a new approach that I think will work. It's called 'volunteer solicitation,' and you'll use all of the work that you've done so far. You're going to work off of the list of potential donors that you've already created, and Mr. Jenson will help you knock on the doors. Then you'll go meet with the potential donors, but you'll take Mr. Jenson with you.

Know your plan, but go with the flow

I can totally understand why you feel intimidated by doing an 'ask' one-on-one with a potential donor. That's why we'll send you with Mr. Jenson as your partner. He said he'll make the calls to set up the appointments. Great! Make sure that he sets up a time when it's possible for him to go with you.

Now this isn't about trying to pressure people into making a gift. Absolutely not. It's about having someone on your team in the room with you in case your tongue gets stuck to the roof of your mouth. I think you'll find this won't be the case, especially once you get talking about the mission, but having someone on your side will make all of the difference.

I think it's good to have a basic format for the meeting in mind, but know that you can break it if you think it's necessary or if the conversation seems like it's going in an unexpected direction. Use your judgement. Mr. Jenson is an old salesman, he'll know the right moment to transition from small talk to your mission and 'the ask'.

Start your meeting with small talk. You know all of these people and you have for years. Once you've had a chance to catch up, you'll need to transition to talking about the mission. You could ask Mr. Jenson to say something like, "We think you'll be excited to hear about the food pantry that St. Catherine's is starting." This is your opportunity to share your passion about serving the poor. Answer any questions that come up, especially those like Mr. Jenson's. Don't be afraid to get excited when you talk about this project. It's contagious.

Once you've shared the mission and answered any questions, Mr. Jenson can then chime in with 'the ask'. He's probably better at this than I am, but he can say something like, "We hope that you'll be able to make this food pantry a reality. Would you be in the position to consider supporting it with $X per month?" Before you go into the meeting, you and he should pick a number that seems appropriate for the person that you're meeting.

Then you both need to sit quietly and wait for an answer. Seriously, don't say anything. At all. If the silence stretches into minutes, GREAT! That means the person is really thinking it over. You'll be terribly tempted to break the silence, but you must resist it with all of your might.

You know that the person will say either 'Yes,' 'No,' or 'Maybe' (or some variation like 'I'll think about it'.) Just wait for them to pick one. And say a prayer internally, that if God wants this person to give He will grant them the grace to be generous.

A plan with a Biblical pedigree

We know this approach works because it is the way God sent Moses and Aaron to ask Pharaoh to 'Let my people go.' That's a hard 'ask.' And talk about a hostile audience. You don't face anything like the rejection that Moses went up against. Your friends will say no very politely if they are not able to support the ministry. You're in very little danger of being cast into a dungeon.

And like you, Moses was terrified of going to his meeting with Pharaoh. So God sent his brother Aaron along with him to be the spokesman. Just having a teammate made all the difference in the world. If you remember from the story, once they got into the room, Moses did almost all of the talking. He just needed a buddy to get him past his anxiety and fear of speaking publicly.

Building momentum

I think it took a lot of courage for you to ask Mr. Jenson, AND to go back to him with answers to his questions. You're doing great. I think that you'll have all the resources you need to move forward in just a couple on months.

Nathan - The Almoner

P.S. I really think that your newfound passion to serve the poor is a grace from the Lord. Continue to press on in prayer and action and I have no doubt that you'll succeed. You'll do things you never dreamed possible.

Need some new ideas on how to fundraise? Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook and find the fundraising strategy that will work best for you!