Surprised by the Gift!

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Okay . . . we’ve all heard the adage, “No ask, no gift!”  This is the best practice that we, as good fund raisers, identify prospects, do the research, create a strategy, cultivate the donor, prepare a proposal, set up the meeting, engage the prospect and tell the story.  Then, we must ultimately ask for a gift and, God forbid we miss this crucial step, ask for a specific amount!  To do otherwise is to break the code, mess up the gift, and forever suffer the consequences!  The only redeeming work that might come out of this is to present at the next AFP Conference on how we learned from our mistakes!

But . . . what happens when we get the gift anyway?

This happened recently as my organization kicked off the public phase of a capital campaign.  Celebrating a million dollars in pledges and gifts, I announced that the $1.6 million campaign needed another $200,000 to break ground on the project.  Following the festivities, a gentleman that I had not solicited called to ask for a meeting the next day.  “I was a skeptic,” he said as we met over coffee.  “I figured, in this economy, there was no way this organization could raise a million dollars . . . but we did!  How much do you need?” he asked.  Before I could respond, he said, “$200,000” as if to himself.  He waved his finger in the air, calculating.  “I can do that,” he exclaimed!  “Who should I make the check out to?”

As I evaluated the experience later, I realized that this gentleman had attended a Financial Planning Seminar and several campaign informational meetings that I had conducted during the past year.  I was cultivating him . . . I just didn’t know it!

Hodge Drake
Charitable Gift Planner of Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices

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