Well, it isn't often that a donor you don't know calls to tell you he will be at your office at 2:00 to talk about his gift. But he did, and David didn't know where to begin. In fairness, he was new to his position and a comprehensive new initiative was just being developed. So we talked about strategy.
Details. History. More details. Goals.
Much of this wasn't even decided yet, as the planning process had just begun. And since David didn't know this donor, there was the risk of asking for the wrong amount - too much or too little.
So here's what we discussed:
Speak briefly about the initiative - just enough background to indicate it is being thoughtfully conceived.
Don't get lost in details - too many details give people opportunity to "not like" something and lose the whole gift.
Provide options - it is better to have several ways to say yes than a choice between yes and no.
Don't suggest a gift amount - provide the broad goal of initiative size and ask how the donor thinks he might help.
Successful major gift discussions are based on having a relationship with a donor. If you don't, then you need to use a light touch and be a good listener rather than talker. Remember the 80/20 rule... listen 80% of the time and talk 20%.
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