July launched a new fiscal year for many nonprofits. Hopefully, plans have been formulated about how to approach fundraising for the next year, including benefit packages, goals, and communication strategies.

One reason why consultants can be helpful for facilitating a strategy-focused board meeting is that board members can be hesitant to practice fundraising pitches. No matter how successful members are in their respective professions, everyone needs practice with nonprofit messaging. Also, soliciting donors cannot be left to paid staff, especially given the high turnover in the nonprofit sector. 

The top two reasons for *not* getting a donation are a poor case and not asking. The first is all about preparation, and the latter if often due to lack of confidence in the presentation.

In a business setting it is highly unlikely that someone would present a marketing pitch to a prospective client without first doing homework, yet this happens all the time in the nonprofit sector. Approaching a donor who has progressively donated more year-to-year is a very different appeal from a donor who contributed for several years and then stopped, or one who has never donated. Yet nonprofits frequently do not track this basic information of year-to-year giving totals.

Preparation on the front end will result in higher chances of successful fundraising. There is no excuse to seem like a “cold caller” when information about the donor is available.

Potential negative consequences of not tracking giving information:

  • Ineffective or embarrassing fundraising “asks”
  • Inability to recognize long-time donors for their cumulative giving
  • Missing trend information to guide strategy

Once pertinent information has been prepared, all board members need to practice the pitch. Tips for preparing the “ask” presentation:

  • Know your mission backwards and forwards and why it matters;
  • Know goals and programs for upcoming fiscal year and how donor dollars will be allocated;
  • Know value for donors, beyond what your organization will accomplish.

Confidence of presentation will largely stem from knowing that you have answers to potential objections—rooted in belief in the organization, its mission, its programs and its leadership.