The Fox and the Crow

It takes a plan to secure a major gift. Many major gift executives I have worked with assume their donor will give without devising a thoughtful plan to ensure this happens. Other major gift executives can be at the other extreme almost wanting to deceive their donor into giving a major gift perhaps for their own fulfilment or to appease their manager.

To illustrate this there’s a story of a crow who one day was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak. A nearby fox observed her and set his wits to work to discover some way of getting the cheese. He stood under the tree and said ‘What a noble bird I see above me! Her beauty is without equal, her plumage exquisite. If her voice was as sweet as her looks, she will be queen of the birds’. The flattered crow gave a loud caw to show the fox she could sing. The cheese tumbled down and the fox gobbled it up. ‘You have a voice madam but I see no wits’ said the fox.

There is a lesson to learn from this. If we try and trick our donor into giving to our charity they certainly won’t have any inclination to give again. We can do this by over promising, by flattery, by giving lots of attention and then, sadly, dropping them once the gift has been given.

Securing a major gift does require the fox’s wit but it is achieved in a more positive way by understanding your donor’s motivation, to genuinely delve in to their interests and to help them fulfil their goal of making a difference but this takes a lot of time. Don’t feel rushed into asking too soon, however pressed by management or to using untruths or unnecessary persuasion. It won’t end well.

Take time to slowly understand your donor. Make a plan but be aware that each donor is different and each will have their own approach to life and to their giving. Find out what that is and form your plan around what you have learned. Every plan for every major giver should be very different. You need wit but use it wisely.

Please add your comments………………

Ruth is the principal and founder of Ascent Philanthropy, author of two books and passionate about helping non-profits with their major gift programmes by offering advice for introducing a new major gift programme or enhancing the productivity of the philanthropy team

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