This week we came across an interesting article in our Twitter feed by Charles Moldow, a partner at a Venture Capital firm. Although the blog post from the website Tech Crunch is written for entrepreneurs seeking start up investments, there are clear parallels to be drawn for small nonprofits soliciting gifts from individuals. At the end of the day, it’s about how well you can “sell.” Whether it is a product, a service, or, in The Curtis Group’s industry, a cause. Each potential donor is a potential investor in the cause.
When working with clients, we stress the importance of a strong case for support (e.g. the nonprofit’s “elevator pitch”). The case should be concise and capture the organization’s mission clearly and simply. We also advise the first “no” is not necessarily the final “no” when making a solicitation call and strategic follow-up, despite the outcome is very important. Finally, when meeting with a potential donor, solicitors must be good listeners. This is not just an opportunity to educate the person about the charity’s cause and to make a strong case as to why he or she should support it, but it’s the chance to ask the potential donor for advice and input on a particular program or project. They should be seen as an investment partner, not just a checkbook. Along these lines, when a gift is made, a relationship is established between the donor and the nonprofit and the stewardship phase begins.
Read Moldow’s article and you will see how easy it is to translate his advice into words of wisdom for nonprofits.