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Solicitation & the Ask

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Making the Ask Workshop: Spring Session
Conference Making the Ask Workshop: Spring Session

5 Ways Board Members Can Support Fundraising
CURRENTS Article "I'm happy to do anything, except ask for money." Work in educational advancement long enough, and you'll probably hear those words from a foundation or governing board member. For some volunteers, asking for financial gifts produces anxiety—and most people are already dealing with pressure in their life. The last thing they need is more stress from a volunteer job. Discomfort with asking can be a major stumbling block for fundraising success. But the ask is only one step in a larger creative process that's intentionally managed to attract donor investment. Reluctant board members can still help our cause, even if they're not making an ask. Here's how to play to their strengths.

Try a Little Tenderness
CURRENTS Article What’s the difference between telling a prospective donor that a beneficiary of charity fell into poverty and just saying the beneficiary is poor? In direct-mail fundraising efforts, that difference is a 33 percent increase in gifts, with donors showing more sympathy to the aid recipient’s story.

Beware of Gifts That Eat
CURRENTS Article I can hardly believe that this year marks my 30th anniversary in the field of fundraising. Ever since I fell into a development job right out of college with my newly minted journalism degree, fundraising is pretty much the only thing I’ve done. When I haven’t been securing philanthropic gifts at work, I’ve been called into service at my church, the kids’ schools, and countless other worthwhile charitable endeavors. I guess I’m a one-trick pony in that regard. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Fundraising can also at times be heartbreaking, exasperating, counterintuitive, and consuming, but above all it’s gratifying. Between you and me, here’s some frank insight on less-discussed aspects of the profession.

Book [Club] Report—An Alumna’s View
CURRENTS Article CASE Online Communications Specialist Meredith Barnett has participated in her alma mater’s alumni-student book club for the past two years, leading discussions with incoming freshmen about the reading selections and talking with them about her own time as a student. Here’s her perspective on how books can spark connections.

A Brief Introduction to the Science of Fundraising
White Paper How can the science of philanthropy inform day-to-day fundraising? This brief report explores the usefulness of looking to social science research to enhance fundraising strategies. Drawing on empirical studies it discusses several potential points of intersection between fundraising and research. Specifically, this paper proposes a “DIME” model to highlight three considerations when crafting fundraising campaigns: Donation Impact, Motivation and Effort.

The 60 Smartest Things You’ll Ever Hear About Fundraising
CURRENTS Article You must bring tremendous energy and enthusiasm to work each day as you meet highly ambitious goals for yourself and the institution. Here's what Jerold Panas learned in 40-plus years of fundraising about donor motivation, characteristics of effective gift officers, timeless strategies for securing gifts, and leveraging trustee support.

The Apprentices
CURRENTS Article With the Student Philanthropy Officer pilot program in York University's annual giving office, students can graduate from phonathon calls to face-to-face asks of alumni.

Advancement Talk: The Best of Advancement Talk
Podcast This Talk with Franklin & Marshall's Matthew Eynon was one of our most popular podcasts.

Breaking Up with a Prospect
CURRENTS Article Dating tips can help fundraisers learn why, when, and how to break up with a hot prospect who has turned into a cold fish. Here are some practical steps for managing the relationship, from the infatuation stage to "where is this going?" based on my 30-plus years of fundraising and 15-plus years of dating experience.

Learning the Language of the Ask
Article,  BriefCASE Article There are several steps a fundraiser must follow to complete a successful solicitation, says an experienced practitioner.

Learning the Language of the Ask
Podcast Franklin & Marshall's Matthew Eynon discusses how someone should prepare before asking for a gift.

Twists and TurnsToward a Gift
CURRENTS Article Alumnus Michael Lang wanted to give to an overlooked area that fit his passion.

How I Closed the Biggest Gift of My Career
CURRENTS Article Five fundraisers share the dramatic inside stories of large gifts along with key insights from their experiences, from being creative to collaborating with colleagues.

Stewardship and the Second Gift
CURRENTS Article Barbara Samper would drive through Salinas Valley and see migrant workers in the field and think, "How can I help their children obtain a college education?"

A Friend to the End
CURRENTS Article In 2014, Foxcroft, an all-girls boarding/day school serving 157 students in grades 9-12, received a transformative gift of $40 million from Ruth Bedford, class of 1932.

Outlook: Solicit Behavior
CURRENTS Article Dealing with alumni who don't want to be contacted seems uncomplicated. Yet the process isn't as simple as it seems. The do-not-solicit policy at many colleges and universities is imprecise and can undermine your institution's culture of giving—and lead to the loss of big gifts. It's time to rethink the do-not-solicit policy: Does it refer to all communications or just some? Is it temporary or permanent? Who has the authority to classify alumni that way? When do we re-engage alumni, and how?

Unlock the Power of Persuasion
Article,  BriefCASE Article Small changes to the copy of a fundraising appeal can garner more money and participation, says a keynote speaker at the upcoming CASE Europe Annual Conference.

Cents and Sensitivities
CURRENTS Article At New York’s Cornell University, gift officers receive a helping hand from an unexpected source: actors. The Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble offers an experiential learning program that includes self-assessments, group interactions, and role-playing to help fundraisers work through situations they’ll face while doing their jobs. This story provides a how-to plan for institutions interested in creating a similar program on their campuses.

Outlook: Rethinking the Ask
CURRENTS Article Nonprofit fundraisers generally wait too long to make an ask. When you ask someone to partner with you in a concrete way—whether by donating funds or volunteering—you raise the quality of the dialogue and elevate both the relationship and the work you will do together. The sooner you make this happen, the better it is for both parties.

The Massive Potential and Frustrating Pitfalls of Big Data
CURRENTS Article This article explains the different kinds of software and prospect research companies that educational institutions use to find potential donors. It also explores how institutions use the data that these services generate, the accuracy of the data they produce, and whether they are worth the price.

Office Space: Inside the Minds of Donors
CURRENTS Article A former adult educator turned development leader discusses how she adapts an online assessment instrument used in adult education to better understand her donors by discovering how they prefer to learn and process information. She also explains how she has used the tool—Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS—to gauge her own strengths and learning style as well as those of her staff, colleagues, and board members.

Mastering the Skill of Asking
Article,  BriefCASE Article When asking for a gift, fundraisers should tailor their message to the potential donor, says a CASE faculty member.

Make the Most of Your First Donor Visit
Article,  Community College News Article Fundraisers needn’t wait 18 to 24 months before asking a potential donor for a gift, says a community college chief development officer.

Outlook: Connecting the Dots for Donors
CURRENTS Article The author argues that educational institutions need to sell themselves to alumni and potential donors the same way they sell ourselves to prospective students. What can we offer them? What value will they get from giving?

Be Succinct and Specific when Making Cold Calls, Speaker Says
Article,  BriefCASE Article When making a cold call to a prospective donor, be succinct and specific by saying your name, noting where you're calling from and proposing a concrete time to meet in person, recommends a major gift officer who spoke at a recent CASE conference.

Faith and Fundraising
CURRENTS Article This article examines fundraising practices at schools with religious affiliations. Faith plays an important though usually subtle role in these institutions' advancement efforts because it is often important to the donors they seek out. Overall, development officers at religious colleges, universities, and independent schools use the same tactics as their colleagues working at secular schools. But the religious nature of their schools often creates strong ties between the institution and alumni, parents, and other constituents that can be beneficial when raising funds.

True Confessions
CURRENTS Article Examining fundraising best practices is a great way to improve a development program, but looking at worse practices can also be enlightening. In this story, fundraisers reveal embarrassing blunders that subsequently may prove instructive.

The Way We Ask Now
CURRENTS Article Frontline fundraisers discuss the highs and lows of trying to raise major gifts during the economic downturn.

Study Proves Personal Ask is Most Effective
Article,  BriefCASE Article Donors to charitable organizations give more when they are asked in person and when someone they know makes the request, according to a new study conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Ask Strategic Questions and Listen to Reach Donors
Article,  BriefCASE Article What’s the best way to engage donors and generate interest in your institution?

Career Path: Hook, Line, and Sinker
CURRENTS Article Fishing gave this university president critical lessons on how to work with donors and reel in large fundraisers.

Stranger Than Fiction
CURRENTS Article Any fundraiser has amusing, odd, or unbelievable stories about prospect visits. Here are a few real-life tales.

Making the Ask
CURRENTS Article The authors provide faculty members with a detailed description of the steps involved in asking a donor for a major gift. They also explain common fund-raising errors and how to avoid them.

Closing Remarks: Follow Your Instincts
CURRENTS Article While development officers know that they should cultivate a prospect rather than make an ask on the first visit, sometimes breaking the rules results in success.

You're Not Welcome
CURRENTS Article When a major supporter suddenly breaks off connections for no apparent reason, the problem may be burnout.

12 Ways to Blow the Ask
CURRENTS Article Frequently an ask fails because of something the fund raiser does—or neglects to do. Dahnert summarizes 12 common, preventable solicitation errors.

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