Hitting The Sweet Spot

Hitting The Donor’s Sweet Spot

Where’s The Sweet Spot?

In personal solicitation with major donors, we often talk about the importance of the romance process. This takes place before the actual ask. One part of that is getting to know the donors – their interests, their passions and what motivates them most about what you do. We sometimes call this their “sweet spot.” Not always easy to detect or uncover, but once you do, you have a better chance to hit a home run. Just like in baseball, hit the sweet spot and watch it fly out of the park!

Did You Stretch Enough?

On a recent visit with a client who is engaged in a major capital campaign, I saw this happen first hand. I accompanied the development director on a major donor visit. We had prepared a leadership proposal for him and his wife for $30,000. This number was based on their giving to the last campaign (8 years ago) and also their annual giving since that time. It was a bit of a “stretch” over their past giving.

Should You Go To The Next Level?

The visit went well. He liked the projects described. We completed the solicitation for $30,000, He told us he would talk to his wife and have an answer in a week. We then showed him a list of prepared “named gift opportunities,” starting at $100,000 and as high as $1 million. We do this with all of the donors so that, even if they can’t do (or are not interested in) a gift at that level, they may know someone else who might be.

Game On!

Little did we know that one of the items on that named gift list hit a cord, a “sweet spot.” Four hours after our initial solicitation visit, the donor showed up at the office with a completed pledge card for $150,000! That is right – not the $30,000 we asked him for, but 5 times that amount. He said he went home, discussed things with his wife and they decided to put their name on an outside amphitheater that the ministry plans to construct. Their family’s interest in music, drama and the arts had gone largely undetected. It is an area they are passionate about and they want to leave a legacy in that way.

Win-Win For All

Just think of the success we could have with every major donor if we took the time to find their “sweet spot.” It doesn’t always happen the way I described above. In most cases, it is hard work and something you need to be intentional about. But, in the end, the rewards are well worth the effort.

Feature article submitted by Kent Vanderwood, Vice President. Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently resides a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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