11:22 – “If you have a donor who you think could give a million dollars, don't spend two years cultivating them for a million dollar gift.”
In this episode, Clark Vandeventer emphasizes the importance of balancing relationship-building and asking for gifts in fundraising. While it's crucial to cultivate relationships with potential donors and avoid coming across as someone who is always asking for money, it's also necessary to let people know that you are a fundraiser. Timing is also crucial, as it's recommended to ask for smaller gifts early on in the relationship to gauge a donor's interest and willingness to give, rather than spending a lot of time cultivating them for a larger gift.
Clark suggests that fundraisers should identify potential donors who can give early gifts without much cultivation. These early gifts can help fundraisers determine the level of giving that a donor is capable of and can lead to larger donations in the future. Clark advises that fundraisers need to become known as fundraisers at some point in order to ask for donations effectively. However, they should also be mindful of not getting a reputation of always asking for money in every conversation.
Clark also discusses the question of how long one should cultivate a donor before asking for a gift. Clark explains that there is no set timeline for this and that fundraising is not a science. Clark gives examples of meeting with a donor 19 times before asking for a major gift and also meeting with donors and asking for a gift on the first meeting. The timeline for cultivating donors can vary based on the type of gift being asked for. For example, for a major gift, it may take longer to cultivate the donor, while for a smaller gift, the cultivation process may be shorter
Overall, the episode emphasizes the importance of cultivating donors, but also highlights the need for flexibility and adapting to each individual donor and situation. Fundraisers need to find a balance between building relationships and making asks, as both are crucial for successful fundraising. By identifying potential donors and strategically asking for early gifts to determine their level of giving, fundraisers can increase their chances of success.
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