Shocking! Comments from Fundraising Partners: Part Two

As I mentioned last week, it is wonderful when your volunteers, colleagues, and leaders offer to help you through a campaign, an event, or an initiative of some type. They often offer valuable insights that you would not have thought about on your own. They may change the course of the project, all for the better. However, some of their comments can also be memorable in the surprise that they can produce.

There have been so many astounding comments over the past years that this is actually Part Two of a two-part post. We all can learn something from the examples. Here are some additional comments that people have shockingly told me over the years:

  1. A key institutional leader was preparing to meet with major prospects who had been donors for years–donating increasingly larger gifts. He had a compelling project that was a priority for the institution and he surely wanted to secure funding, as he repeatedly mentioned. He requested that we prepare him for the meeting and set the meeting with the donors so he could ask for the support. This was the right time to ask them to consider a $1,000,000 gift. His response to the coaching was: Well, I certainly can't ask them for a specific amount! And certainly not $1,000,000. I have known them for a long time and consider them as friends. I simply can't be rude to them.

  2. When I secured my first consulting job and I had the kickoff meeting with the director, she started the meeting by asking: Well, where are your lists? My lists? Yes, you are known for your ability to raise money–where are your lists? You must have brought some–how else are we going to raise money?

  3. When a small organization needed to raise $4 million, they noted during the initial meeting, discussing the approach to be used: Don't be expecting that we spend money on any kick-off events or in cultivating any of the donors–other consultants wanted to spend money that way. Just be sure we get the significant gifts–take the prospects for coffee and then ask them. We don't have any extra money and we don't want to waste our time.

  4. When an influential physician wanted to secure a major gift for some valuable and very basic research, she noted the strategy that we should use: There is a man in New York who funded something similar for a New York University just last year–just send him a note and ask him for the support. That will do it.

  5. When a major donor was solicited for a naming opportunity, the volunteer (someone who the major donor admired immensely) choked during the meeting. But he was resilient and began again He summarized the project for the donor and told him about the impact the project would make on the community. The donor said: I am most interested in this project. How much would it cost to name the Center? The volunteer hedged and told him: Well, $10 or $15 million, whatever level makes you comfortable. (The volunteer was very proud of the outcome. The donor very happily made a gift of $10 million, which set the level for the campaign to follow.)

As I said with last week's post, if you don't understand the problem with any of these examples, please get in touch with me immediately; I will explain!