Ready, Set, Ask!


Football season is in full gear which means that fans are excited, non-fans are already tired of all of the hype and that the fourth quarter of 2016 is fast approaching. And if we’re nearing Q4, then it’s just about game time with regards to putting your year-end fundraising plans into play.

No doubt you and your team have been working hard in preparation for year-end and your appeals and Giving Tuesday strategies are coming together nicely. (BTW, if you’re with an Illinois non-profit, I encourage you to check out Forefront’s #ILGIVE campaign for Giving Tuesday and to sign up if you haven’t already.) But, while all of your year-end prep is going on, I have a question/challenge for you:

Who should you be asking for a gift between now and Thanksgiving?

I am in no way suggesting you should not adhere to your current major donor strategies and individualized plans. What I am saying, however, is that you undoubtedly have at least a couple of consistent and generous supporters in your prospect pipeline that are ready to be asked, face-to-face.

  • Which of your donors has given generously at year end for two or more years, even though you’ve never met with them and specifically asked them for a gift?
  • Who is on your major donor prospect list that is likely to make a gift between now and Dec 31st? Would they be open to a solicitation visit? Assuming you have been actively cultivating the relationship, is there a chance you’ve been avoiding taking the next step and asking them for a gift?
  • Are there any past board members, committee or gala chairs that you have been meaning to solicit but “haven’t had the time”?

There are probably more than a half a dozen other scenarios associated with your donors, volunteers and prospects that, if you take an hour to assess your candidate pool, you would find people who are actually ready to be asked. The challenge is to identify 6-10 people from your community of donors and make it a priority to schedule an intentional conversation with them to discuss their support and ask for gift.

Before everyone’s mailboxes, Facebook pages and phone lines are filled with the sound of the year-end giving season — get in front of the donors you can and make a personal appeal. Many folks already have an idea as to how much they intend to give this year and your direct ask will likely put you organization in a position to get a large slice of that pie. In addition to standing out from the crowd in their eyes, most importantly, the time and attention you invest in your visit together will certainly help to strengthen your relationship.

You’re ready. Now you just need to get set and go ask!

David Gee is an experienced development professional with particular expertise in capital campaigns, major gifts and donor stewardship. David joined the HUB Philanthropic Solutions team after serving as The Chicago Bar Foundation’s Director of Development. Prior to that, he spent 18 years working as a professional actor in Chicago. Among his volunteer activities, David serves on Forefront’s Resource Development Committee and the Development Committee for All Chicago.


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