You’ve invited one of your best prospective major donors to make a significant gift to help construct an exciting new facility.
You know that the donor is generous and has made other significant gifts in the past.
You know that the donor values your mission.
You know that the donor agrees that constructing this facility is important and exciting.
The conversation is warm and affirming. And then, the donor says,
“I need to think about it.”
How might you respond?
One way is to ask questions about what they need to think further about: “Is it the facility itself?” “Is it the amount of the gift?” “Is it something else?”
These can all be fine responses and may help to pinpoint a specific issue or concern not yet known. But, what if the response is still simply, “I need to think about it”?
In these situations, a helpful response is to affirm the donor and keep the gift conversation moving forward.
“Thinking further about it makes sense to me. It’s a significant gift! I’ve had other donors tell me that having a brief proposal/gift planning document keeps all the specifics in one place as they think through their commitment. Can I send that to you?”
The purpose of this response is 3-fold:
- To affirm with the donor that this is a collaborative process, not an adversarial one. We understand and agree with their “need to think more” about the gift;
- To communicate that they aren’t being a bother and that we can assist them. Other donors have gone through the same process and we know what has helped them navigate this decision;
- To advance the conversation about the gift. By sending either a proposal (if a written proposal hasn’t already been presented) or a gift planning document (if a written proposal was presented, you can send a commitment form that further details the timeline and amounts of the potential gift), you are helping focus the next discussion with the donor on committing to the gift.
The best development leaders keep donor conversations open and moving toward the next gift. For every question, statement, or objection a donor might make in response to an invitation to give, there is a helpful response.
A key toward generating more major gifts is becoming more confident, competent, and comfortable in our responses to donors during gift giving invitations.
Perhaps that is something we all “need to think more about.”