Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

When They Don’t Believe, They Won’t Give!

blue rule

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life of what we give.” – Winston Churchill

What motivates large gifts? What are the psychological factors, pressures, and social imperatives that drive men and women to make gifts of consequential size? Gifts of a million dollars or more.

The answer is complex, a puzzle. The plain fact is that probably no single factor is the overriding determinant in making the decision. More than likely it’s a combination of feelings, timing, past giving experience, and motivation and exigency of the moment. Perhaps sheer serendipity. It can’t be simply that these people have the ability to give.

How do you find the “right button?” And when you do, how do you most effectively push it?

For those organizations with compelling missions, someone is out there ready to give. He or she is out there waiting to be asked and has the resources to make a gift of consequence. Sell your mission with the greatest ardor possible. Only when you feel you have accomplished this are you ready to talk about a campaign program or a specific project.

Many of you will be approaching donors who give far less than $1 million. Don’t be concerned, the principals are every bit as relevant for $100 donors. 

To be an effective fundraiser requires a quality of intrepidity, persistence, and timing. Be bold and daring. It is harder to get an appointment than it is to secure the gift.

More intensive planning and innovation may be required to get the appointment than is needed to secure the gift. Use the best person and contact possible to make the appointment and open the door. Always remember: getting the appointment is 85 percent of getting the gift. Seize the Opportunity.

Tenets for Success from the book Mega Gifts Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them written by Jerold Panas

During the preparation of this book, Jerry combined all he heard from donors and all he could read on the subject. Jerry mixed this generously and openly with his own feelings and attitudes.

What evolved were 62 factors that become a guide that shapes and determines the success of securing the mega gifts. 

1. Don’t say ‘no’ to anyone
Be bold and daring. Go after your top prospects with persistence and passion, all the vigor and zeal you can muster. You’ll be hurt more by those who would have said “yes” but weren’t asked, than by those who say “no.” 

2. Individuals give emotionally, not cerebrally
Men and women don’t give to needs. They give to dreams and dazzling visions. Giving is visceral. Individuals will view your long list of details and specifics with quiet admiration, but this will seldom move mega givers to audacious action.

3. Virtually without exception, husbands and wives (and partners) discuss their major  philanthropy  
Husbands and wives will confer before making a final commitment for a mega gift. You can count on it. So give serious thought to initiating your discussion about the gift with both, even though only one partner may be interested in your program.

4. There is no clear evidence the spirit, passion, and dedication to philanthropy is passed on to the next generation
Countless examples confirm this (though you will find notable exceptions.) The new generation will have its own unique desires and passions.

5. A good friend often isn’t the best person to solicit the gift – although she or he may be the best to make the appointment
Often, a friend will be overly protective and may find it hard to overcome a negative attitude on the part of the potential donor. Instead of asking for a gift, it will be much easier for the friend to switch to making a date for next week’s golf match. There’s another problem as well. A friend often feels asking for a gift can damage the relationship. Secure the appointment with the help of a friend and send someone with the friend who can ask for the gift.

Read the remaining 57 tenets in the book Mega Gifts.


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