I recently attended an event that showcased the talents of young students majoring in various fine arts programs. The audience was filled with donors who supported these programs with their philanthropic gifts. The students performed beautifully, the audience clapped enthusiastically. Everyone had a warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the program. The master of ceremonies got up and said, “Thank you for coming. Refreshments are being served in the foyer.”
GASP!!! What is wrong with this picture? A captive, appreciate audience was not asked to give a gift! A prime opportunity was lost.
When individuals are asked why they don’t give a gift, the most frequent answer is that they weren’t asked. Don’t waste opportunities to ask for a gift. Don’t apologize for asking. Be clear, honest, and deliberate. The worst that can happen is that the donor will say no. And no does not necessarily mean never! It may mean that the donor needs more cultivation. It may be that your presentation was not sufficiently compelling. It may mean that the donor’s financial circumstances will not allow a gift to be given at this time. It may be that your ask is for a project that does not appeal to the donor. However, you will never know unless you ask!
Now, think of a project for which you need funding, identify a donor that might be interested in that project, practice your presentation, set the appointment, and make the ask! You can do it!!
Dr. Jill Nilsen
Dr. Jill Nilsen has more than 35 years experience working at Eastern Illinois University and was responsible for all of the external outreach to their many customers. She was responsible for marketing, communications, fundraising and building strong alumni relationships. She also is an active volunteer in the regional nonprofit sector having served as board president of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, Excellence in Education Foundation for Charleston, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Board, and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Jill and her husband Hank reside in Charleston.