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Solicitation of major donors is not for the faint of heart. It might not even be for many of the strong of heart, or even those in between.

Difficult or not, it must be done, and during the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference on Fundraising, Jill A. Pranger of Pranger Philanthropic and Steve Smith of St. Ann’s Community Foundation offered advice about the delicate task of asking major donors for their major donations.

To begin with, fundraisers must ask themselves the following six questions about major-donor prospects:

  • What are the donor’s needs, interests, motivation and recognition desired?
  • What is the expected gift range?
  • Can the organization accept less than the ask amount?
  • Does the gift opportunity match the donor’s interests?
  • What gift payment timing options will the organization accept?
  • What questions might the donor ask?

They also recommended that major fundraisers remember ABCAM:

  • A – Acknowledge/Agree
  • B – Be calm/no buts
  • C – Clarify/confirm
  • A – Address
  • M – Move on

And finally, these bits of advice: Remember the people you’re serving; Advance thinking is necessary and critical; It is OK to make mistakes; Find your phrase; Keep the conversation going; Have fun; Celebrate; and, Do it again.

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