This holiday season, your organization’s ambassadors will be out celebrating with co-workers, friends, neighbors and family. While we know that you would like for them to be talking up your organization and securing a few more donors for your cause, let’s be realistic. That rarely, if ever, happens. The truth is that nobody wants to pitch or be pitched during holiday parties and events. So this holiday season, encourage them to “ditch the pitch!”
“Ditch the pitch?” Now that we have your attention (and you’ll have theirs), remind your ambassadors that the most important part of fundraising with individuals is developing relationships that grow and sustain over the years. Instead of pitching, ask them to engage with their party guests in a new way. Encourage them to:
- Share something personal
- Ask questions
- Engage in great conversation
- Listen for shared values and concerns
- Keep a list
These are the basic building blocks of a good individual giving and major gifts effort.
- Share something personal. Great conversations start with someone sharing something personal. It might be a reflection on the year or something that one hopes to achieve in the coming year. But keep it brief! It should be a statement and not a monologue. If your ambassador can share something related to your organization, that’s a bonus!
- Immediately ask a question. Ask anyone and the best conversations they’ve had recently are ones in which someone was interested in what they had to say. After you share your personal statement, ask your audience a related question.
- Engage in great conversation. Really listen to what your audience has to say and ask follow-up questions.
- Listen for shared values and concerns. Your ambassadors should be listening for clues that the audience is a good match with your organization, its impact, and with other board members or volunteers. In addition, whom you are listening to might give you clues as to how what kind of philanthropic experience they are interested in.
- Keep a list. Ask your ambassador to keep a short list of people they’ve identified who might be worth following up with in the New Year. After the holidays, you can sit with your development team and think about the best strategies for engaging those that are potentially a good match.
Raising resources (especially those that are significant or will yield for a long time) requires that the organization and prospect develop a good relationship. This takes time and some thought. Encourage your board members, volunteers, and staff to always be on the lookout for potential prospects by engaging and listening.
So instead of memorizing mission and speaking points, remember one or two of the questions below and ask it often this holiday season. You’ll be glad you listened.
- I’m so glad that I got involved with XYZ Org. I’ve met so many amazing people this year. What’s your favorite nonprofit organization? Who is the most amazing person that you have met this year?
- I’ve been busy this year with XYZ organization, but it’s so worth it when I see the impact of their work. Have you ever been on the board or thought about being on the board of a nonprofit? What did you enjoy the most/least?
- I’ve learned so much this year about XYZ issue. If you could eliminate one issue in the world, what would it be?
- This coming New Year, I am resolved to work on some bigger issues – bigger than my waistline that is. I am going to do more work with XYZ organization. Do you do any volunteering? What is the most important criteria for you to get involved?
- I just received the nicest thank you note from XYZ organization that I have been supporting for years. What’s the best thank you/recognition that you have ever received?
- I’ve just been reading the XYZ annual report. Their work is so amazing. When you are evaluating nonprofit organizations, what do you look for?