Nonprofits need to have strong individuals managing their membership and corporate support departments. That is not to say that the executive director can ignore the revenue-generating parts of the operation. Because most donors want to feel comfortable with the leadership of the organizations they support, most managers have learned that they have to take a primary role in fundraising.
Managers and fundraising professionals must work together. In order to be truly successful, a manager must be willing to spend more than half of their time meeting with donors. During a major capital campaign, a manager might spend 70-80 percent of their time raising money.
There is an old adage that people give money to people they like. Yes, they want to support the good work of an organization, but if they are not comfortable with the leaders and the vision of the group, they are less likely to make a major gift.
That is why a good manager should be able to recite the names of a station’s major donors. Those donors should be considered VIPs for the organization and should be treated accordingly. The manager should meet with them periodically. The donors should have the manager’s cell phone number. Regular communication is key.
The manager should be able to engage the major donors in discussing the importance of the organization and how it relates to the community and to them. The major donors should know of the manager’s vision and plans.
But what if you are not comfortable asking people for money? The best fundraiser is the person who has the passion for the organization’s mission. If that is not you, then you are in the wrong business or have the wrong job.
Here are some tips if you are new to fundraising:
- Don’t do it yourself. Another member of your fundraising staff should accompany you on visits with donors until you become more comfortable with the process.
- Don’t worry about making a mistake. Be passionate. Be prepared.
- Start with people you know. These are your listeners or viewers who already love what you do.
- Get to know the person you are meeting with. Get to know their business and what motivates them.
- Rehearse your ask.
- Always ask for a specific amount. “You obviously like our idea, would you be able to make a $5,000 gift to support this idea?”
- Once you’ve asked…be quiet. The person who sold you your last car will tell you that the person who talks first, loses.
The better you get to know your donors, and the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. Give it a try.
This is an excerpt from THE PUBLIC MEDIA MANAGER’S HANDBOOK. Learn more about the tools you will need to be a successful leader of your organization.