Philanthropy 101: From Prospect to Donor
By Dave Kelner, Major Gift Officer
During banquet season, RMEF volunteers make a special effort to contact our legacy and habitat partners, invite them to local events, thank them for their support and encourage them to continue giving to the mission. This is also a great time of year to devote some attention to those folks who are considering giving their first gift to the foundation. Here are a few things to consider when encouraging someone to become a donor:
Identifying a Prospective Donor—Some of the best sources for finding prospective donors include local RMEF members, agency partners and business partners, as well as personal contacts like family and friends, your doctor, attorney, contractors, etc. Once you identify a potential donor, gather as much information as you can about them. Then decide who is best suited to make the initial contact and eventually solicit a gift. Your RMEF regional director and the HQ development staff can assist you with prospect research.
Cultivation and Education—Establish a relationship with the potential donor. Share as much information about RMEF and its mission with them as possible. But above all, listen to what they have to say. Ask questions and learn what they’re passionate about. Our goal is to invite, inform and involve them.
Preparing and Making the Case—During your initial contact, describe RMEF’s needs and how the prospective donor’s gift will benefit the mission. Accentuate the importance of their gift and how they as individuals can make a difference. Share your personal story about supporting the mission, as well as those of other donors, especially people the prospective donor may know personally.
Solicitation—Prior to making the solicitation, decide who is best suited to articulate the need and make the ask. Review who will handle each part of the solicitation, including making the appointment, finding a comfortable setting for the meeting, introductions, the body of the meeting, the actual ask, etc. When the time comes to solicit, first discuss the donation’s benefits to both the prospective donor and RMEF. Then ask them to consider giving a specific dollar amount.
Listen to the Donor—Once you have presented the case and made the ask, it is time to stop talking and listen. Answer their questions as best you can. Be willing to discuss other options. If the donor agrees to a gift, take time to explain the next steps in the process.
Stewardship—Thank the donor in person, then follow up with a handwritten card. Stay connected with the donor. Send annual and milestone reports on mission accomplishments. Invite them to your local banquet. When appropriate, invite them on project tours and ask them to bring along friends or associates who might also have an interest in supporting the mission.
RMEF regional directors, major gift officers and headquarters staff are all available to assist you with this process. Give us a call at (800) CALL ELK!