Start With Their Dreams

Start With Their Dreams


By Dr. Scott Janney, CFRE

Do you know how to tap into a donor’s motivation to give? Have you nailed “the Passion Question?” You must understand the donor’s incentive before helping them reach their goals through cash or planned gifts.

Without a Vision, People and Dreams Perish

The fundraising professional’s main task is to help donors see their vision in clear and compelling terms. If they can, they’re going to invest a lot toward its fulfillment. Any difficulties they might have understanding CRTS and CLATS will fade if you keep them focused on their aspirations as they relate to your charity’s mission. If you can do that, according to Philip Cubeta of the American College, “you will have an impact on what the donor loves.”

“The Meaning Thing”

Here’s how to do it:

  • What are your donor’s deepest passions and values? Animal shelters, neonatal units, maybe a detox center?
  • Help them identify opportunities to fulfill their goals—even if that has to happen outside your organization (Remember the way Macy’s sent people to other department stores in “Miracle on 34th Street?”).

Maybe they don’t know. In that case, ask questions that allow potential donors to share their histories, then listen carefully to their answers. Do some detective work before meeting with them. What has been written about them? What have they written that reveals what makes them tick? A lot of people are thankful for the breaks they’ve had in life, like attending college through a special scholarship, so helping them create an opportunity for another student in need could easily tie to their purpose in life.

I know a guy who rang bells for The Salvation Army. He told a story about a man who put a wad of cash into the kettle and said, “That’s for one rough weekend many years ago.” Clearly, there was a strong connection between him and the organization. That’s what fundraisers do—build connections that lead to commitments, and ultimately the fulfillment of a donor’s personal legacy.

The fundraising professional’s main task is to help donors discover and state their own philanthropic vision in clear and compelling terms. If they can answer the passion question and imagine what could be accomplished with their resources, they will invest in fulfilling that dream.

Categories: Bequests, Charitable Gift Annuity, Charitable IRA Rollover

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