Major Gifts Asking vs. Major Gifts Getting is Jim Eskin’s take on the big monies charities are leaving on the table. Here’s what the founder of Eskin Fundraising Training has to share:
There are more than 1.5 million non-profits in the U.S. They all are virtuous. They are all fueled by inspiring professionals and volunteers who are devoted to championing their respective noble missions that touch, improve and save more lives. This puts donors in a difficult position of choosing not between the good and the bad, but between the good and the good and having to make tough decisions on what to do with finite resources of their time and money.
Similarities and Differences
These non-profits share many admirable characteristics, but they also differ in important ways, particularly when it comes to developing resources so that they can more robustly advance good works.
More and more organizations are fully committing to pro-active fundraising principles, strategies and best practices. Without fear, anxiety nor hesitation they unabashedly ask intentionally for support, and enjoy resource development success. This includes a broad cross-section of higher education and medical institutions among many other non-profit leaders.
They stand above others because their fundamental fundraising culture is one of asking vs. getting. The two should not be confused. In a getting culture, the non-profit passively receives a gift that is entirely determined by the donor when it comes to amount, purpose and timing. Drastically different and more lucrative is the asking culture in which the non-profit strategically influences the outcome by proposing a specific amount, purpose and timing. They are not greedy. Instead, they enthusiastically and personally develop the resources that their noble missions, programs, staff, and especially beneficiaries, richly deserve.
Asking is Much More Strategic
As a fundraising consultant/trainer I’ve worked with many organizations that reflect both cultures — getting and asking. Now, there is nothing wrong with passively receiving gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations. It sure beats no money at all. But a getting culture deprives the non-profit of its promise and potential. I am surprised and disappointed by how many non-profits fall in the getting category.
I strongly advocate that non-profits draw a line in the sand and transition from getting to asking. This is in keeping with the principles, strategies and best practices of high-performing non-profits. Here are my 12 recommendations on making this important journey from a getting to asking culture.
Necessity of Asking for Specific Amounts
CIA Prospect Identification
Capacity: This is the factor that comes to mind first for most people. It centers on the financial ability to make a gift, driven by income and wealth. Over and over, I see non-profit ears perk up when hearing that so-and-so has a lot of money. Of course, there can be several significant nuances to this information, such as liquidity, financial commitments, and pressures. Just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean they’re going to give to you.
Inclination: This begins the process of digging deeper. If the donor prospect is wealthy, do you know if they are philanthropic and have demonstrated that they do donate to charitable causes? And, if they are philanthropic, why do we believe they care about our cause? There should be some rationale to conclude that they have a genuine connection to the mission or could be cultivated to develop such an interest.
Access: Even if you can establish capacity and inclination, the final — and biggest challenge — is figuring out how we are going to be able to get to the donor prospect. The bigger the donor, the tougher the challenge usually is. The Six Degrees of Separation reminds us that everyone on the planet is separated by no more than six personal relationships. In many communities like San Antonio, this is more like two degrees of separation, and board members and volunteers can and should facilitate access and open doors.
In Closing …
Adoption of these dozen measures and other best practices in the same spirit will provide an exclamation point as the non-profit purposely and thoughtfully transitions from a getting to asking culture. True, it might require a shift in attitudes, courage and steady reinforcement to move all board members forward in this journey. Some board members may choose not to make commitments, and that is their choice. Serving on the board means providing concrete leadership in the commitment to perpetuate and empower the mission, vision and values of the organization.
Jim Eskin’s consulting practice, Eskin Fundraising Training builds on the success of his more than 150 fundraising workshops and webinars and provides the training, coaching and support services that nonprofits need to compete for and secure major gifts. He has authored 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers, business journals and blogs across the country, and publishes Stratagems, a monthly e-newsletter exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy. Sign up here for a free subscription. He is author of 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons, which can be purchased here.
Eskin Fundraising Training
10410 Pelican Oak Drive
San Antonio, TX 78254-6727
E-Mail: [email protected]
Major Gifts Asking vs. Major Gifts Getting was first posted at National Development Institute
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