Know The Goal of the Call

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
– Zig Ziglar

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

We all have the same amount of time in a day. How we use it often determines how successful we are. When calling on potential donors, both your time and the time of the donor needs to be taken into consideration. Early in my fundraising activity, I would set an appointment, go spend time with the potential donor, and see where the conversation would go hoping for a good outcome. I often felt like I was not maximizing my time and possibly wasting the time of the potential donor.

My mentor, Pat McLaughlin, shed some significant light when he introduced me to the six R’s of fundraising. It revolutionized my calling.

Research. The more you know about the donor, the more likely you will receive a gift. The first million dollar ask I made was for a football stadium. I made the ask and the donor said, “No.” A couple of months later I was with the same donor on campus giving him a tour of the construction site hoping to at least receive a smaller gift. As we talked, he told me his wife had only seen one half of a football game and she hated football. If I had known this prior to my million dollar ask, I would have never asked for that amount. Whenever you are with a donor, listen, observe, and learn about them. Know your donors.

Relationship. Cultivating a relationship takes time. Demonstrating love to the potential donor is an important ingredient. Spending time with them, attending events together, engaging in the things that interest the donor, and simply relating to each other on a personal level is an important aspect of fundraising. Showing appreciation and genuinely caring for them and their families is essential in building a relationship. When the pandemic swept across the nation, our team spent two weeks making more than 600 calls to donors simply asking them how they were doing. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays all are opportunities to make a connection. On Thanksgiving Day, I usually spend the first half of the day calling, texting, and emailing many of our donors thanking them for their involvement with the college. You know the relationship has reached a level of maturity when the donor contacts you. When I was in the hospital due to COVID-19, most of our major donors repeatedly called or texted me to see how I was doing. Simply put, love your donors. Wait for them to love you back.

Request. There comes a time in the relationship to make an ask. It is important to let the person know in advance you are planning to make a presentation and ask for a gift. Many people are fearful of making an ask. Some even refuse to ask. Just know if you do not make a request, you probably will not receive a gift.

Recognize. Showing recognition is tricky. Some donors seek it and thrive on it. Others want to be anonymous. Whichever the case, showing appropriate recognition to the donor for their gift is an important part of building trust. Most people think it is about being praised for the gift. I have always understood recognition as a way to build a legacy. The recognition allows future generations to see what was important to the donor. Recognition serves as a value statement for the donor. However, all donors love appreciation. Saying thank you within 48 hours of receiving a gift is a good goal. Larger gifts should receive a hand written note from the president or CEO. Staff should send thank you notes to their respective portfolios. Showing gratitude for a gift is the simplest way to recognize a donor.

Recruit. When making a call, it is always appropriate to ask if they have any friends you could call on to make a presentation. Major donors hang out with other major donors. Asking about their friends is a great way to expand your donor base. It also is the least expensive way to engage in donor acquisition.

Report. Once your donor gives, report back to them how their gift was used and how important it was to your ministry. When our auditorium was built and we began to use it, I would often take pictures of what was happening and text them to our major donors. Reporting back to the donor demonstrates integrity and accountability to them. It increases the likelihood they will give another gift.

Following the 6 R’s is a simple and effective way to plan your course of action with your donors. However, in the holy partnership, it is good to remember that the Lord is leading the way. As Stephan Joubert tweeted, “When I walk with God, He does the talking. He also determines the pace of the walking… as well as the route!” In a fundraising holy partnership, the Lord is integrally engaged in your relationship with the donor. Our responsibility is to be sensitive to His nudges, practice the 6 R’s, and allow Him to arrange the various aspects of the relationship including the outcome.

Jules Glanzer served as a pastor and church planter for 25 years, a seminary dean at George Fox University, and the college president at Tabor College. While at Tabor, God used his efforts to raise more than $53 million with no gift over $2 million. Jules serves as an adjunct professor, mentor, senior consultant with the Timothy Group, and recently authored Money. Money. Money. Actions for Effective Fundraising.

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