Board, Capital Campaigns

“I don’t like to ask for money” and other “wa-wa” excuses

I know that most people don’t like asking for money. It is an uncomfortable thing to do. It also makes my job possible so I’m okay with it. Unless, I hear it from a Steering Committee member. I can’t tell you how often I hear: “I don’t like to ask for money.” Which is pretty ironic considering that these same individuals were recruited with a sole purpose: to raise money for the capital campaign. As a director of development, this puts you in a bind. A committee meant to raise money who hosts members who don’t like to ask for money. It’s a quandary.


What to do? What to do?


The Challenge: Our committee members won’t ask for money.

The (other) Challenge: You have not trained your committee members to ask for money.

The Solution: Set up a one-hour training session with your Steering Committee. Start by discussing the importance of a peer-to-peer ask: If an individual who has already given $1,000,000 to the campaign asks another individual for $1,000,000. It is a “peer-to-peer ask”. It is also much stronger if an “ask” comes from a volunteer leader instead of a staff member. Once the members understand why it is so important for them (yes, each one of them!) to make the solicitations, move onto a step-by-step instruction on how to engage a prospect donor. I often provide a generic script and role play it with a committee member.

Script should include speaking points for:

  • Initial phone call to prospect donor to ask for a meeting and/or invite them to a cultivation reception
  • At the meeting/reception
  • Follow up phone call conversation
  • Solicitation

The Challenge: Our committee members are really and truly not skilled at asking for gifts.

The Solution: Find them another role. There are many steps to making a solicitation from the initial cultivation steps to the actual solicitation. Find a strategic role for each member to play in engaging prospect donors. Perhaps your committee member has many important relationships with key individuals who are prospect donors and socializes with them on a regular basis. Utilize him or her to start talking about the capital campaign improvements and the need for donations. They don’t have to ask, but building the case for campaign verbally is really important. It gets the prospect donor’s mental wheels turning. This same committee member can also be the one to invite the prospect donor to the solicitation meeting and participate, but someone else solicits. I have a client and they use the Executive Director for solicitations because he is a very effective “asker” who is sure to make a solicitation with exact amount before the meeting closes. You may have a committee member who is an eloquent writer and will help you communicate the need of the campaign through handwritten letters to key individuals.

The (other) solution: Or ask them to step off the committee. For detailed instructions on how to respectfully usher a committee or Board member through the exit process, read this.

In full disclosure, the picture is my cutie patootie niece with her “wa-wa” face on.

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