A 12-Step Guide to Your Next Fundraising Call

Leading with transparency is my personal go-to. In our current environment, I believe transparency in fundraising is absolutely essential.

When you are talking with your donors (and I absolutely think you should be) it is time to keep it simple and keep it real. Here are 12 steps to consider as you make your next fundraising call (or video meeting):

  1. Be sensitive. Check in with how they and their families are doing.
  2. Listen – really listen – to what they are sharing with you.
  3. Ask “What do you most want to know about [insert your org] right now?”
  4. Give an honest answer.
  5. Then, share with them your fundraising opportunity. Use language like, “I don’t know where you are with your personal giving right now. I do know that you have been one of our most generous (loyal) donors, and I want to ask you if you are in a position to consider an investment of $[X] to do [Y].
  6. STOP.
  7. Let them respond.
  8. Thank them for their gift or their honesty.
  9. Set a next step with them.
  10. Even if they are not able to give, ask for permission to check in with them again in a month (or two) and give them an update.
  11. Follow up with a handwritten note, email, or text.
  12. Put a tickler on your calendar to follow up.

Don’t let fear paralyze your fundraising right now. Instead, be willing to be vulnerable. Put your organization’s needs out there—not in a ship-is-sinking kind of way, but in a transparent way. Share how you have refocused your programs, adjusted your budget, engaged your board. But don’t be afraid to share your funding needs and invite your most generous and most loyal donors to step up for you. I am certain that many of those who can, will.

If you need help with refocusing your current strategic plan or your development plan, let me know. We are working with several organizations on just that. We have devised an efficient, focused approach that generally takes about 10 hours or less to help you reposition, preserving essential elements of your plan while adapting or eliminating others. We call it a Strategic Refocus and it is specifically designed for a time such as this.

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