In order to overcome call reluctance, I have found it best to have a plan. These five steps are the same ones that I use to help me stay calm, focused and boost my confidence. Solicitation calls can be intimidating, but because these calls are so important to our organizations, it is worth learning how to master these calls and make them productive and purposeful.
#1 Research: Always begin by doing your homework. Gather information through media and research sources. Talk to board members, donors, staff, and volunteers. Know as much as you can because this information is going to help you gather insight about your prospect. Don’t forget to document this information in your computer – tracking your prospects is crucial, it will help you feel more in control and make you better at what you do.
#2 Relationship: If you have been following me for any length of time, this one should not surprise you! Remember that we are trying to get to know our donors on a personal level so use the conversation to get to know them. Ask about their hobbies, their pets, their families. Find out from them what motivates them to give. Ask about their passions, their concerns, and their desires. I cannot stress enough that fundraising is about relationships!
#3 Have a Plan: Planning takes the stress out of things, so I always make sure to set up a plan of action for each contact for an entire year. My goal is to meet with a prospect four to five times a year. For example: first meeting is a “get to know” meeting, second meeting I invite prospect to an event, third I take them out for a round of golf, on the fourth I make ‘the ask’, and the last visit is to follow up and thank the prospect. After completing this plan I set the course of action for this contact for the following year.
#4 Stick to the Plan: Make sure you follow your plan of action. You will find that having the next step outlined allows you to have a reason to meet with your prospect and allows you to communicate that purpose to them. When everyone is on the same page and knows what is coming next the path is more clear for the more important things of learning who your contact is and finding out what matters to them.
#5 Power in Numbers: Finally, taking a colleague, staff member, board member or volunteer with you when you go on the appointment will help take the edge off making the call on your own. It will also have the added benefit of more exposure to the depth, passion and commitment within your organization.
I am confident you have what it takes to make great calls! These basic steps have always helped me, and I know they will do the same for you!