chapter 21 Building Major Donor Programs

The financial payoff in fundraising is when you regularly receive large gifts from an ever-increasing number of your donors. To build a major donor program, no matter the size of the organization, a majority of staff, board, and volunteers must feel comfortable asking people for money in person (see Chapter Eight, “Getting Comfortable with Asking”). For many people, that comfort starts with being able to ask someone for $20 for a ticket to a benefit event such as a dance or for $35 to become a member.

Some askers never move past that level of comfort, but if an organization is to grow and thrive, a critical mass of board, volunteers, and staff must be able to ask for much larger gifts—$500, $5,000, $50,000, and even more.

A person doesn’t have to like asking for money to be able to do it. Some of the most successful fundraisers I have known have confessed that they always feel anxious when asking for money. But they do it anyway, and sometimes their nervousness makes them prepare more thoroughly for the solicitation and feel even better about themselves and their group after they complete it.

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