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What Is The Best Way To Approach Potential Donors?

By LeanStream Engagement on November, 23 2021

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Approaching donors for a school fundraiser is not something that comes naturally to people. The fear of rejection can also make it scary. 

Luckily, we have compiled a list of the best techniques you can use to approach potential donors. The list should help you in your endeavor to approach [and acquire] donors for your school and secure the much-needed funding. Keep reading and, more importantly, keep these tips in mind.

A Little Research Beforehand Is Key

The very thought of approaching a potential donor is an indication that they are capable of contributing to your cause. This may not always be the case, but in the past, when you had to approach someone for a donation, it was because you deemed them capable. 

Some donors want to meet you to get a good feel of your institution and the cause before they can write you a check. They want to learn more about you. Similarly, you should also strive to learn more about the potential donor.

Depending on whether you've had an interaction before, the research can be conducted in several ways. For example, if they are friends/family to someone working in your school, you can start your research by consulting with that person.

Additionally, you can look into their giving history to estimate the amount they are likely to donate. Also, look at the type of causes they have donated to in the past so you can find out what they are passionate about. This way, you will be able to tailor your donation requests accordingly.

Create a Strong Relationship Beforehand

This is as important as doing your research. Just the way you wouldn't expect to receive a birthday present from a stranger, don't expect a new prospect to be readily willing to part with their money.

Forming a relationship with the prospective donor before making your move is very important. You will need that relationship to ensure the donor supports your future causes anyway. 

When forming a relationship with the potential donor, avoid over inserting yourself in the conversation. Allow them to talk about their interests and what aspect of your cause they would be willing to donate to. Also, let the conversation flow from how the potential donor can help your school to how your school can effectively utilize the resources given. After all, the prospective donor wants to know his donations will be well utilized.

Remember, a happy donor can help attract more donors.

Go Where They Are

The point here is to avoid meeting the prospect in an awkward, formal meeting. 

You could meet them at a community/social event, at the golf course, or set up a virtual meeting in their living room. You want to approach them where they are most comfortable. This will take pressure off them and make it easier for you to win them over. 

While at it, make your pitch about them, not you or your institution. Granted, you will still talk about your school, but be sure to make them feel important by showing them how their particular donation would help your school and your cause.

Practice Your Pitch and Be Ready For a Rejection 

If you approach a prospect and forget everything you intended to say, they are not likely to donate. To avoid such embarrassments, practice what you intend to say to the potential donor.  

It doesn't mean you memorize the pitch in the shower or carry a notebook with you everywhere you go. It could be as simple as practicing with your colleagues and asking them to give you different answers so they can gauge your body language. This will help you alleviate any nerves and prepare you for all kinds of answers. 

While you are optimistic that you will win over the donor, that is not always the case. Some of your pitches may result in a resounding 'No!' 

Utilize Different Ways of Communication

Sure, you may ultimately have to approach the donor in person. However, it is equally important to communicate with them in a variety of ways before approaching them. You can interact with them on social media, make phone calls, and/or send emails. This is especially important if the donor can potentially make a big donation.

While a face-to-face meeting is the ultimate goal, you don't want to waste thirty minutes of a potential donor's time when a simple email would do. It is all about creating a balance in communication.

Show That You Care By Being Genuine and Specific

When approaching your prospect, you have to be genuine, direct, and specific. This not only demonstrates that you care about your cause, but it also shows the prospect that you are interested in their contribution. The prospect wants to know that you are fully invested in the cause before they can contribute. 

At the same time, you don't want to be vague in your pitch. Ask for a specific amount. The research you conducted about the prospect will allow you to know how much the potential donor would be willing to contribute based on their past donation history. 

However, if the prospect is only willing to donate an amount that is below your expectations, don't try to convince them otherwise. Keep in mind that they know their financial situation more than you do. 

While at it, make sure you let the prospect know precisely how their money will be used. Make them feel their contribution will be a worthy cause and that the donation will be efficiently utilized. 

Final Word

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to approach potential donors, but by following the tips, you will be able to effectively approach a potential donor and help raise much-needed funds for your school's cause. 

Remember, LeanStream has a full suite of fundraising solutions for all your education fundraising needs. Please get in touch with our support team today for any inquiries.

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