There are a variety of ways to raise significant dollars and it is all about the numbers. What is the most effective way for you, the donor and the organization? Here are some strategies by the numbers:
• One + One solicitation – This is a very effective strategy. This allows the donor to share emotional stories about his/her family and if necessary, private financial information. There is a certain comfort for the fundraiser as well to know that you are in the privacy of the donor’s thoughts. Because there are only two of you, there is a quiet freedom to ask more personal questions that you might not ask if a third person was in the conversation. This is an effective method for the solicitation of any size gift.
• Two + One solicitation – When the triad is perfect, this is a very powerful solicitation. This can work in a couple of variations. First, two professionals can solicit one donor. This elevates the solicitation by signaling to the donor that he/she is very important to the organization. Next, one professional and one lay leader (volunteer) solicit one donor. This also elevates the solicitation by bringing a peer with the professional to discuss the organization with the donor. When a donor hears from a peer their commitment and trust of an organization, it allows the creation of a new partnership for the professional and the donor.
• Two + Two solicitation – Similar to the above. In this scenario, either two professionals or one professional and a lay leader solicit a couple. What is most illuminating in this scenario is that the professionals learn a lot about people when there are together with their spouse or partner. This could be difficult if the couple is not philanthropically in alignment, their values or interests vary or even their anxiety levels about money are very different. The professionals need to listen carefully to cues from the couple.
• Ten – Twenty Donors in a group solicitation – This is used most effectively to raise significant dollars. This must be choreographed with the sole purpose to allow for the donors to share their ideas and bring them to a point where the solicitation is successful. The success of this group solicitation is peer encouragement. When donors are together with like-minded peers, the impact is genuine and powerful.
• Large groups – Similar to the small group solicitation, this must be designed to move the donors emotionally to give a significant gift. The speakers must be articulate and emotional. Their speech needs to bring the donors to understand their role in helping the organization. In this scenario, the speakers should be beneficiaries of the organization which allows the group to see the impact of the organization’s work and therefore the justification of the donor’s gift.
With all of these, the solicitors must be confident and proud of their work. Knowing their donors and which of the scenarios will work best is critical to the solicitation. In my experience, most donors genuinely want to be philanthropic, trust their organizational partner and see the impact of their work. It is exciting when you can offer wonderful opportunities for donors that satisfy their philanthropic goals. And even better when they are grateful to you for bringing them the opportunity.