The Five Steps of Proposal Writing – Step #5: Do The Ask

The call came in around 10:30 that morning.  The MGO could barely contain herself.  And I could hardly understand what she was saying.  The call was electric – and for good reason.

“I can’t believe it!” she said.  And then she told the story about meeting with her donor that morning,  how she had been very nervous and wondered if she had prepared properly.  Things seemed to be going well as she went through her points (the ones I have been talking about in this series on proposal writing).  She could tell that the donor was really resonating with the MGO’s statements on gratitude for past giving, the list of interests the donor had, the match of those interests to the organization’s need, the immensity of the need, the possibility of providing a solution and how the donor’s gift would really help.

Things were going really well.  And then….

Well, let me tell you how the MGO said it.

“And then the donor asked me a question that I wasn’t quite ready for,” said the MGO.  “How much do you want me to give?”

“Richard,” the MGO said excitedly.  “My heart was pounding.  And for a minute I just didn’t know what to say.  And then I remembered the work I had done preparing for this meeting.  And although I hadn’t been prepared for the donor to just come out and ask me this question, I did know the answer.  So, I said… ‘A million dollars!’  I just said it!”

Well, by then I am gnawing on the side of my desk in anticipation.  And I can tell the MGO was having fun with the pregnant pause.

“And she said YES!” the MGO screamed into the phone.  “One million dollars, Richard! Can you believe it?”

And I said:  “Yes I can.  And here’s why.  You were prepared. You were focused on the donor.  You knew where you were going.  And what mattered most to you was not the money but all the joy the donor would experience by helping in this generous way and all the help people in need would get. These are all the reasons this worked for you.”

And then we hung up and I sat for a bit and thought about this.  I marveled at how, once again, a person with great wealth and ability had been partnered with by a caring MGO.  I reflected on how that union had released much needed resources into our world, and how those resources would be flowing out there to ease the pain, to heal the hurt and to meet the need.

What a wonderful thing.  What a humbling event.  What a miracle that we can actually be part of something so precious and special. I am truly amazed every time this happens.  And whether the gift is a million dollars or just ten, it is still a very sacred and extraordinary moment.  And this is why:

  1. One human being opens his heart and hand to place his love and care into the hands of another person (the MGO) whom he has come to trust and believe in.
  2. That love and care is then channeled to people in need.
  3. The people in need are blessed and lifted up.
  4. And something magical and mystical has happened to everyone involved.

My goodness! Can this get any better?

I hope that, through this series, you have been able to see how important it is to prepare and listen well.  When you truly listen to the donors and then work hard to steward their heart’s desire, so many good things happen.

And we all need a lot of good things to happen these days – in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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