The next steps in putting your plan of action or “map” together is to be ready with what you are going to say.  Here are some suggestions:

     1. Write the outline of what you're going to say. 
You could include phrases such as:
        a. Thanking them for a past donation/contribution
        b. Sharing what was accomplished with their past gifts
        c. Asking to meet with them to learn why they give, since you are new to your job
        d. Asking to meet with them to learn why they give, as you are always trying to learn             more about what motivates donors to give to the nonprofit organization.

      2. What if you get voicemail?
         a. If you reach voicemail, have a message ready to leave
         b.  It is recommended the message be upbeat, short and succinct

      3. What if a receptionist or other person answers the phone?
          a.  Again, be ready with a message
              i. Quickly introduce yourself
             ii. Ask their name, or use it if you already know it;“Jane, my name is Carolyn                           Greene, and I’m trying to reach Gary Chaps to schedule a time to talk.  Does he                       handle his own calendar?”
                     - If the answer is yes, then try "Is he available to talk or can I be directed to                              his voicemail?"
                     - If the answer is no, and the person answering the phone handles your                                   target's calendar, again use their name and begin working with them to                                 schedule a meeting/time to talk

       4. What if it just rings and rings and rings?
           a. If the phone just rings and rings, explore alternative methods of reaching the                          prospective donor; this could include any or all of the following:
                i. Try pressing “0” to ask the operator for the person you're trying to reach
               ii. Try calling an alternate phone number such as a cell phone number
              iii. Send an email to the email address listed
              iv. Try sending a text if you have a cell phone number
               v. If you are connected via social media, try reaching out via private message
              vi. A final alternative is sending a note in the mail with your contact information                       and business card; again, the letter should be short and sweet and to the point –                     basically stating that you would like to meet to learn more about them

The key to success is exploring and using every avenue available to reach the individual. I’ve witnessed too many development officers give up when they can’t reach the person via phone. My guess is that I have heard almost every excuse, too, of why someone doesn’t want to use a cell phone number, send a message via Facebook, make a call to a home number, etc. 

My advice is like that Nike slogan – Just Do It!  Don’t give up! 


​​Professional philanthropy means I've spent my entire career facing Big Asks, and I'm proud to say that Big Asks aren't only manageable - you can even learn to love them!

THE LADY WITH THE BIG ASK is here to teach you what it takes to ask for what you want and get it - from donors, board members, bosses, coworkers, employees, and in your life.


Philanthropy Expert and Transformational Change Agent

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