By Noble Smith
You think that you know all the earthly sins in the world, particularly those surrounding the Art of Asking, well what are the three most flagrant ones in all of philanthropy?
You are right if you immediately uttered –
“I forgot to ask the prospect for financial support“,
“I didn’t ask for a specific project, amount or need“, and
“At the last moment, I had another event to attend and did not visit the prospect personally – just sent a little hand-written note.”
In nine out of every ten solicitations that are not successful, these three items are, at least, one of the main reasons for failure and no bacon!
Many, many solicitors do do their homework, rehearse their visitation, but when confrontation is at the doorstep, the orderly and essential process enters the mental round basket.
Every seasoned and successful fund raiser knows that 90% of any fruitful solicitation is planning with only 10% being the actual face to face opportunity to encourage and motivate a “lively suspect”. Tactics, strategies, relationships and associations, partnering – these words, and many like them, are all an integral part of that planning process – leave any of them out and you become more than a charter member of “The Half-Asked Society”.
You have never heard of “The Half-Asked Society” (THAS) – a very unwelcomed introduction to you. THAS is the demon, the curmudgeon of fund raisers, the jester who warned you not to make the same mistake twice and, THAS, unfortunately, is one commodity that will assist you in applying for Chapter 11. It is the resting home for staff, Board members and volunteers who do only 10% planning and 90% fund-raising, who let panic reign over common sense and organization, and who are consistently late for their prospect appointments.
If you are not planning, you are not fund raising!
Planning is the quintessential element for elevation to that promised land of successful fund raising, whether it is for annual support, capital needs or for planned and estate giving. Everyone needs to be involved not just the CEO, CFO, and the other institutional Os – an essential degree of involvement for staff, Board members and most importantly, volunteers.
All serious potential prospects (I call them suspects) must be thoroughly convinced that the non-profit has completed its homework, has structured itself in a business-like manner and knows how to get the most out of each buck. Without that level of confidence, the organization is just building expanded membership in “The Half-Asked Society.”
So as you begin to master the art of asking and to avoid membership in THAS, thorough planning is quintessential AND matching the right suspect with the right solicitor for the right funding objective and for the right amount of support is mandatory.
Next Blog – a detailed outline of what works in the successful art of asking!
Noble Smith is a former Commissioner, President of Noble Smith Associates (Development and Marketing Consultants), and a featured blogger.