How to Answer the Questions Every Donor Asks
By Dave Kelner, Major Gift Officer
Last August Elk Foundation president/CEO David Allen and the board of directors announced major gift solicitation will be a cornerstone of fundraising for the next three to five years, along with big game banquets and other events. (See “RMEF Philanthropy: 2008 and Beyond”)
As a volunteer, you are probably wondering how you can help? RMEF is always looking to grow its list of donors, and that’s where you come in. We need everyone to keep their eyes open for potential donors. Whether they come right out and ask the question or not, donors will surely be thinking about several things when approached. Here’s what you can expect:
Why me? When a donor asks this question they are really asking: Do you care about me? Am I important to you for reasons other than my money? The answer to this question lies in our ability to help donors understand how our mission meshes with their personal interests and how, by entrusting the organization with their money, they’ll be helping to achieve something that is important and beneficial to them.
How much do you want? Most donors want to give what they perceive as fair—not too much, not too little. It takes legwork, and conversations with staff and others who know the prospect to help determine how much to request. The goal is to come up with an amount that’s challenging but reasonable.
Why your organization? We all know there are thousands of great organizations out there, so why give to us? The key is our mission and what we’ve accomplished: the facts and figures relating to the acres conserved, protected, enhanced and opened to the public, the number of folks we’ve educated or inspired, and our plans to continue this work.
Will my gift make a difference? A potential donor wants to know we have a detailed strategy for accomplishing our mission and that their donation will help make it reality. Getting a donor out on the ground to experience a project first hand and inviting them to project tours or dedications will give them an opportunity to envision how their gift would help. Reporting back to a donor about what their gift accomplished is another great way to show they helped make a difference.
How will I be treated after giving? Part of treating donors well is showing appreciation at all levels of giving. Properly thanking donors is the key to our future success, and we can’t do enough of it! Headquarters sends a letter or note when the gift is processed, so getting the documentation sent in is critical. A personal note, phone call or a letter of thanks with a project photograph will let the donor know we truly appreciate their gift.
Connecting with donors and potential new donors will be key to our success. RMEF has many resources to assist you in this endeavor. Please contact your state leadership team, regional director or major gift officer with your questions or for instruction and advice.
Thanks for all you do for elk country!