The urgency and excitement of a high-profile event offers unique opportunities to approach your major donors and local businesses, encouraging them to pledge their support. Sean O'Connor, ASPCA Vice President for Development, Special Giving, offers these tips in his webinar, "Maximizing Opportunities for Major Donors."
Wipe Away Your Guilt
When asking for money, it helps to think of yourself as the broker between the person with money to give and the people who need that money to do the work. You are giving those who can't do the work themselves a chance to be engaged in something they believe in. You are doing them a favor.
Put It on Paper
Begin by writing out a short – one- or two-page – statement of what you're trying to accomplish and why a donor's participation is important. It should be professional but not glossy. Prospects respond well to being shown a draft and asked for input.
Nice To Meet You
When making the initial contact, try this approach: "We have these terrific plans and I'd like to talk with you to get your input and see how you might want to be involved."
You can research donor prospects ahead of time using the Internet and personal contacts, but the best way to learn about a prospect is to sit down and have a conversation.
More Approaches That Work
Tell 'Em What They're Getting
People give because they want to meet critical needs (saving lives) and they want to see a direct link between the money they give and the needs being met. For example, try approaching donors before a big event asking them to cover adoption fees – that way, you can waive fees without losing fee income.
For the Win
Participating in a contest? Sample script: "We're asking ten people to invest in our campaign to save more animals and win a grant for our organization so we can save even more animals in the future."
Set up a mission or money challenge within your campaign. "Will you give us $20,000 if we raise an equal amount?" or "Will you give us $10,000 if we meet our goal of saving 1,000 animals?" Or you might try a matching challenge. "Will you match every dollar we raise up to $25,000?"
Shout Their Name From the Rooftops!
All donors like to be recognized (sometimes even those who say they don't). They also like to feel that they are engaged in the work, and as such they like inside information. Consider setting up clubs at various major giving levels. The higher the giving level, the greater the recognition: listing on website, their name on a sign in the lobby, mention in a press release, or a private dinner with your organization's leaders to learn inside information about the agency's work.