People give to people. Your goal is to have the right person asking the right person, at the right time, in the right way for the right amount of money for the right project.
A combination of experience, interpersonal skills, passion, conviction and natural flair help in asking for gifts.
You should never apologise for asking for support. You should approach a prospective donor with the opportunity to support an exciting and important venture. For many people and families, giving is a joyful part of their lives.
Ideally, the ‘right’ person asking has:
• a relationship with the prospective donor
• knowledge about the person’s interests and capacity to give
• an understanding of all aspects of the project for which you are seeking support.
The ‘right’ donor will be identified through research into
their interests and capacity to give.
The ‘right’ timing depends on:
• the potential or existing donor being fully engaged and interested in your work or your organisation
• the potential or existing donor having sufficient understanding about the program or project for which you are seeking support
• enough time having been put into the relationship to ensure that the ‘ask’ is likely to be successful.
The ‘right’ way to ask is the way that appeals to the
donor’s motivations, expectations and circumstances.
Present them with an opportunity to support an activity that
matches their interests and aligns with their motivation/s:
- if they love the artform, demonstrate how the gift will contribute to developing quality work
- if their interest is prestige, emphasise the type of people that are associated with your organisation and the networking opportunities available
- if their concern is for social change, emphasise the positive community outcomes of your work.
One-on-one meetings are by far the most effective way
to gain a commitment. By communicating on a personal
level there is opportunity to listen and convey enthusiasm,
respect and appreciation. Anticipate and prepare succinct
responses to questions the donor is likely to have:
- why should I give now?
- what good will result?
- what difference will I make?
- why should I give to this?
Specify the amount of money sought and the purpose for
which it will be used. Then give time for the donor to reply.
If the response is positive – well done - your preparation
has paid off.
If the response is negative or non-committal, perhaps the
amount is not at the right level, the project is not quite what
the donor is interested in or the timing is not right. At least
you have established a point to work from.
If the response is negative or non-committal, perhaps the amount is not at the right level, the project is not quite what the donor is interested in or the timing is not right. At least you have established a point to work from.
Try to have a further conversation around any resistance to support and offer solutions. For example, splitting the gift into instalments over time or supporting just part of a project maybe a better option for the donor.
A rejection does not mean that that person will never donate to you or your organisation. Remember that relationship building is ongoing and commitment grows in stages.
If the person does not want to make a commitment now, don’t drop them off your list (unless that’s what they want). Maintain contact and communication – you never know when their circumstances or attitude might change.
"Connect with donors - a guide for the arts to build relationships with donors", Australia Business Arts Foundation, 2012