One of the things donors often wonder about is whether the ask they just heard or received from the MGO is really, really true. Don’t get me wrong. They don’t think the MGO is lying. They are just not sure that the promise of what will be done with the money is totally factual.
You might be reading this and saying, “Come on, Richard. That’s just not true. Our donors really trust us. And they believe every word we say!”
This could be true for some of your older donors – donors over 70 years of age – folks who have always just trusted you no matter what.
It is definitely not true of the younger donors.
First of all, these younger donors (under 65) want more engagement – they want to get their hands into the program or the discussion and process, so just talking doesn’t do it for them.
But in addition to this, the fact is that these younger donors are just not as trusting. They want to KNOW exactly what the story is about an ask – ALL the story.
Jeff and I have discerned that the larger the ask the more the donor needs to hear some of the details about the program from someone higher up in the organization. You could put it this way: the larger the ask, the greater the need for high-level executive involvement.
This reality leads us right to the topic of who is in the meeting with your donor when you do that ask.
Often, an MGO is expected to do the job on his own. This kind of thinking on the part of management is shortsighted and, may I say it – foolish.
In the commercial world, if a large chunk of business is being pitched, the top people show up. Why would it be any different in the non-profit world?
I’ll tell you why. Because, in the non-profit world many CEO’s and top executives look at fundraising as though it is either beneath them OR that it should not involve them. This always amazes me. Any leader who believes resource acquisition is somehow outside of his job responsibility has a damaged view of what he was hired to do.
Put simply, a leader’s job is to deliver program to a specific client group or environmental sector. Delivering program has two parts to it:
- Securing the resources to pay for the program delivery.
- Delivering the program in a cost effective manner.
You cannot DO the program without the money to do it. So where these leaders come up with the idea that they can somehow be separate from this critical activity is so strange. But enough of that…
Here’s the point I am making in this post.
When you are doing a large ask, involve others from program and executive leadership to help you do it. Program people always add credibility to your story with the donor since they know all the technical details. And having an executive or the CEO present lends authority as well as credibility to what you are saying to the donor.
I’ve seen times when a marketing oriented CFO has added a lot of value to the ask or even the head of HR when the ask deals with capacity building and adding more staff.
When you include these leaders in your process with the donor, the donor feels included in the inner circle of decision making. They get to see, feel and touch the reality of the humans who are making something happen with THEIR money. And that gives them confidence.
So when you plan your next donor meeting, think about who you can add to it to achieve a greater amount of information sharing and confidence building.