Useful Fundraising Mnemonics

A post by James V. Toscano

mne·mon·ics: the process or technique of improving or developing the memory.

While fundraising is a complex process, there are certain devices that jog the memory when working in specific situations. Over the years, I have developed a number of these memory-jogging simplicities to ensure sophisticated processes.

Here are two: the 3A Rule and the 4P Rule.

The Three A Rule:

1. Ask: It’s amazing how much planning, scenarios and time are spent in setting up cultivation of a prospect that never results in an ask. Until you ask. you are an empty shell, an unfulfilled promise, a waste of time and resources. You need to ask for gifts.

2. Ask for a specific amount. Never violate this. The weak of willpower can ask for a gift range, e.g. “we are asking people in your group for gifts of $200-500.” Better to do the research and ask for a specific amount, so the donor has some idea of what you want/need. Never say “Do what you can” or you will be inevitably disappointed: a ten dollar gift discharges the donor of any obligation. Let prospects know the expectation. They will then decide how much to give, knowing the parameters as well as their own preferences.

3. Ask again. People will give more than once a year if asked. Organizations are leaving money on the table if they only ask once a year. Certainly an ask at year’s end will boost totals by 10% or more among those already having given. Donors should be segmented, with some getting four appeals a year, others more…or less. More importantly, the new sustaining programs, never-ending until the donor stops the process, monthly or periodic draws on checking or credit card accounts and other devices demonstrate the elasticity, as well as generosity of donors.

The Four P Rule: People (1) give to Peers (2) after Personal (3) Presentations (4)

1. People Individuals give donations based on their values and the values, mission and people of the organization to which they give resources. In different ways, individuals donate approximately 80% of all private giving. Segmented, they respond to different messages, as indicated by Seven Faces of Philanthropy and Money for Good. Remember, foundations and corporations are staffed by people as well, working with different sets of values, guidelines, but still people.

2. Peers. Donors are most comfortable in their giving when asked by a peer, by someone they know or know of, who represents authenticity, authority and trust. They often ask who else is giving, assured again by names of people they know, or know of. Those who ask their peers must also have previously given, with prospective donors potential peer solicitors of others as well.

3. Personal. Personalize every request. Focus the request on the values, priorities and interests of the prospective donor, whether the request is in person, by telephone, in a letter or an e-mail. Use no third-person narrative: use “you,” “we,” and “I” extensively. Tell stories about people, patients, and clients. Segment based on personal values and behaviors.

4. Presentation. Make a compelling case based on the organization’s success or the promise of success. Specify the value proposition and/or the prospectus. Most people know about need, so the task is to make a presentation complete with visuals, stories, and data based on outcomes and impact. Keep it focused, personalized and motivating.

While the above will not create the full development plan and process, they often come in handy as reminders of needed steps, as well as in orienting volunteer solicitors to the overall plan and process.

Copyright 2012 The Good Counsel, division of Toscano Advisors, LLC. May be duplicated with citation.

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