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How to Ask for a Major Gift: 3 Fundraising Major Gift Ask Sample Scripts

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Published: Apr 26, 2022

How do you stand out and prove your value among the 1.6 million nonprofits across the United States? 

Even with prospects connected with your cause, solicitation has its challenges. One way to get ahead of the curve is to provide a set of scripts to your volunteers before they start their fundraising journey. 

Scripts will ensure that your volunteers solicit in a well-planned, organized, and cohesive manner. Also, it allows you to add points that you know will compel your contacts to donate. 

But at the root of drafting a fundraising major gift ask is the question: How much should you ask for in a major gift?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this. 

One nonprofit may consider $2000 as a major gift, and another might do so with $25000. Some look at the donor’s past donation and make a significantly bigger ask. For instance, if a donor’s usual donation amount is $500, the nonprofit would consider $5000 as a major gift. 

All in all, in this article, you’ll see a set of sample fundraising major gift ask scripts along with guidance on how to write your own scripts and how to ask for a gift.

How do you ask for a major gift?

Now that we’ve seen how to get the best out of your fundraising major gift ask, let’s write a major gift proposal.

Introduce yourself

Start your talk by introducing yourself, thanking the prospect for their previous support, the reason for calling, and the need for their investment.

If they seem doubtful or hesitant, remind them why they care about your cause. 

Hi, <donor_name>. I’m <volunteer_name>, from <organization_name>. I’m so happy I got in touch with you. I’ve been an admirer of all your support to <organization_name>. I’m calling because we have a new program where we <Explain the program and how it benefits the cause you’re working towards>.

Prepare them

Bring up something your donor mentioned in your past interactions related to your program or cause. 

You mentioned you’re a strong supporter of <cause>. Is there a story behind it?

Show the opportunity to make a difference

People are wired to listen to stories, and storytelling beats statistics all the time, shows evidence

Take the conversation forward with the understanding you have of what will inspire this donor to donate. One approach is to tell a story to outline the impact your donor’s contributions will have. 

Your support has helped us achieve <organization’s achievements>. Today, we have a chance to take that to the national level. As you know, our organization has a big vision. What I really love about <nonprofit_name> is… 

When you contribute to our nonprofit, you are helping…

Ask open-ended questions

Uncover what people think about you and your work by creating a productive conversation around your donor’s values. Try to understand what their views are rather than imposing yours. 

Your questions should get them thinking and instill interest in your cause. All you need to do while they talk is listen carefully and take notes.

What are your thoughts about <the story you shared>?

Convey urgency

Ask for a specific amount and convey urgency. Tell them exactly how their donation will be put to use. 

Pro tip: Key into your donor’s motivation to give. It may be a desire to fulfill their ancestors’ wish, to do something for the greater good, or even to feel a sense of belonging.
We have been trying to get this project up and running for several months, and now, finally, we have many people with us as our supporters. 
The success of this project impacts…
Will you consider donating $X to make this happen? 

Close on a happy note

Thank your donor for their time and commitment. Remind your donor of the positive impact their donation has made. Overall, make them feel good about their contribution. This is how you’ll continue to secure gifts from them. 

Thank you so much, <donor_name>. We’re going to mark this donation in your name. I assure you this is going to… <share the impact>. 

Even if you don’t receive a donation at this point,

  1. Thank them for their time.
  2. Ask for a follow-up call and help them reach out to you with questions.
  3. Get them involved in other ways like inviting them to an event, asking them to volunteer for you, etc.
  4. Ask them to point you in the direction of someone who might be interested in donating.
  5. Request them to spread the word among their network.

This will help you at least strengthen your relationship with the supporter, which one day may turn beneficial for you. 

Fundraising major gift ask script samples

When seeking major gifts, one effective way to go about it is to use multiple channels and touchpoints. 

In this section, you’ll see fundraising major gift ask scripts for the three most popular mediums:

  1. Letter
  2. Phone call
  3. In-person

Let’s see some major gift proposal templates.

Fundraising major gift ask script: Letter

Dear <donor_name>,

As you might know, <organization_name> is a nonprofit that works towards <your mission>. Our organization has a long history of success. Last year, we received a donation of <donation_raised>, and we are incredibly thankful to our donors.

This year too, we’re conducting our annual fundraising program to serve <your cause>.

One of my tasks as a volunteer is to identify some of our best supporters. Last year, major contributions from our generous donors helped us achieve:
<Accomplishment 1>
<Accomplishment 2>
<Accomplishment 3>

And so on…

This year, one major challenge that lies ahead of us is <the challenge>. In addition, there are the <other challenges>.

To solve these, we’re asking some of our best supporters to donate <ask_amount> to <organization_name>. Would you consider donating <ask_amount>?

Thank you for being a fantastic supporter. 
Best practices:
– Keep your letter not more than a page.
– Acknowledge the past support of your donors collectively.
– Explicitly mention the reason for sending the letter: fundraising.

You May Also Like: Major Gift Fundraising: 9 Best Practices You Can Implement Today

Fundraising major gift ask script: phone call

Hi, <donor_name>. This is <volunteer_name>, from <organization_name>, following up on the letter I sent you last week. I’m so happy I got in touch with you. I’ve been an admirer of all your support to <organization_name>. 

I’m calling because we have a new program where we <Explain the program and how it benefits the cause you’re working towards>.

You mentioned you’re a strong supporter of <cause>. Is there a story behind it?

<Listen to their views>

That’s amazing. Your support has helped us achieve <organization’s achievements>. Today, we have a chance to take that to the national level. As you know, our organization has a big vision. What I really love about <nonprofit_name> is… 

When you contribute to our nonprofit, you are helping…

What are your thoughts about <nonprofit’s_vision>?

<Listen to their views and acknowledge>

We have been trying to get this project up and running for several months, and now, finally, we have many people with us as our supporters. 

The success of this project impacts…

Will you consider donating $X to make this happen? 

Thank you so much, <donor_name>. We’re going to mark this donation in your name. I assure you this is going to… <share the impact>. 
Best practices:
– Call at different times of the day on different days of the week to test what works best for a demographic. 
Leave voice messages in case you don’t reach your supporters.
– If you can’t reach them after multiple attempts, or they haven’t been able to make a decision after multiple callbacks, consider scheduling a meeting with them.

Fundraising major gift ask script: in-person

Hi, <donor_name>. This is <volunteer_name>, from <organization_name>.

How are you doing?

<Listen>

Great, <donor_name>. 
<donor_name>, I’ve come here today with one big responsibility: to ask for your support in <Explain the program and how it benefits the cause you’re working towards>.

I’ve also been curious. You mentioned you’re a strong supporter of <cause>. I’d love to know more about that. Is there any interesting story behind it?

<Listen to their views>

That’s amazing. You have helped us achieve <organization’s achievements>, and now we have a chance to take that to the national level. As you know, our organization has a big vision. What I really love about <nonprofit_name> is… 

When you contribute to our nonprofit, you are helping…

What are your thoughts about <nonprofit’s_vision>?

<Listen to their views and acknowledge>

We have been trying to get this project up and running for several months, and now, finally, we have many people with us as our supporters. 

The success of this project impacts…

We were all hoping you’d consider donating <ask_amount> to make this happen. It’d mean a lot to <beneficiaries>, what do you say? 

<If it’s a firm NO>

Will you consider a smaller contribution of <small_ask_amount>? This will help us <the_impact>.
Thank you so much, <donor_name>. We’re going to mark this donation in your name. I assure you this is going to… <share the impact>. 

8 major gift solicitation tips

First, let’s see some of the most effective ways to improve your fundraising major gift ask. 

1. Build a rapport

Major gift donors are kind of a big deal, and they want to be treated as such.

Show your prospective donors that you care about their interests. Show them that they are the chosen ones because of their values. The better you know your prospects, the better will you be able to tailor your ask. 

Your donors will also appreciate the efforts you put in paying attention during your previous interactions with them.

Best practices:
– Identify yourself right at the beginning so your donor knows who they’re talking to.
– Do your homework before the call so you know your donor’s interests, values, and anything you may need to know about the donor in specific. 

This is what a good discussion looks like:

  • You break the ice with an approach to building a rapport, for example, asking about their weekend plans.
  • You wait for them to answer and finish what they have to say and briefly introduce your organization’s achievements, your nonprofit’s vision, ongoing projects, etc.
  • You ask for your supporter’s opinion using open-ended questions.
  • You listen to their comments and suggestions.
  • Now, you know the areas your donor cares about the most. Your ask needs to align with these areas. 
Important reminder: You don’t want to mess up your donors’ names while talking to them. CallHub lets you personalize your call scripts using merge tags. Merge tags help you add a dynamic field such as your donor’s first name. When your agent gets on a call, this tag gets replaced with the actual value, in this case, the donor’s first name. Your agents can now refer to the script to address your donor by name.
CallHub helps you segment your potential major gift donors into a separate list based on past interactions. You also get access to each contact’s details you’ve collected in your CRM while you’re on the call.

For example, your volunteer knows that Mr.ABC is a good friend of one of your board members, making him a highly potential major gift donor.

In addition, every detail you record when you make a call from CallHub gets synced with your CRM in real-time. This informs your future interactions with your donors and gives you a better understanding of their potential to give.

2. Position fundraising as an inspiring investment for a positive change

You’re offering the opportunity to people to be a part of a positive change. So, stop thinking of fundraising as a ‘help you’re asking of people’, but as a milestone to ‘changing lives’.

Assure your ability to be working for the cause and taking your mission forward.

Remember, you’re talking to someone who already admires and supports you. Now, you have to convince them to take the next step. 

Remind them 

  • How their values match with yours,
  • How thousands of lives can impact positively because of your organization,
  • How your donor can be an important part of that impact. 
What to say
– You’ve been such a strong supporter of…
– We share the same values, and…
– We’re investing for a positive change…
– You are such an inspiration to…

What not to say
– A little help from you would mean a lot…
– You probably will hate what I’m about to ask you for…
– I know you may have your own commitments, but…
– I know this is a big ask…

3. Share an emotionally compelling story that aligns with your mission

Weave a story where your donor is the hero that saves people from a tragic ending. Start by telling a story of someone whose life took a positive turn because of your nonprofit. Now, show a big picture with the full impact on hundreds and thousands of such lives.   

In at least one of these lives, your donor is the life-saver when they decide to donate. 

Make sure your story flows in the following direction:

Step 1: The problem your nonprofit is addressing.

Step 2: How your nonprofit is solving the problem. 

Step 3: How this has changed the lives of your beneficiaries.

4. Show that you care about your donors by showing what’s in it for them

Not everybody will give out their money for nothing in return. Create a reciprocatory plan which engages an individual donor throughout the year with multiple interactions. 

Here are some examples:

  • Free passes for the whole family for one of your high-profile events.
  • Volunteering opportunities for their kids, with certification.
  • Networking opportunities.
  • Tax benefits.
  • External incentives like a paid holiday or a bumper prize.

5. Ask for a specific amount or gift

You are much more likely to receive a gift or donation if your donor knows what and how much you want. Asking for a specific amount or bracket or minimum amount will give them that exact idea.

Moreover, people will want to know how their contributions will be used. Show them how exactly their gift will be put to use.

This way, you’re being respectful, and your donor knows that you have a well-thought plan.

Now, how do you arrive at this number? Is this number going to be the same for all your prospective donors? 

Of course not. 

The financial status of each of your donors is different from one another. You ask too much; you scare them away. You ask too little; you lose out on a huge opportunity. 

There are multiple ways to find out the right number or at least a small range, and here are some:

  1. Looking at the information you have on them about their occupation. 
  2. Conducting a survey a few months before your fundraising campaign to understand the bracket their gift amount may fall in.
  3. Looking at their past donations to other organizations or your nonprofit.

6. Deal with objections

First, let your donor respond after you’ve made the ask. Hold back from interrupting or leading them and wait for them to decide and talk to you. Only if and after they tell you that they can’t donate, confirm their reasons or objections and proceed to address them.

Here is how you deal with some common objections:

If they think the amount is too high, tell them where exactly their gift is falling, say, using a gift chart. You can also suggest they include their peers, friends, or family and pool in.

If they say the timing is not suitable for them, ask them if they can commit to a donation that they can make at a time that suits their financial situation—for example, making a pledge to donate during the holiday season.

If they say they support another nonprofit, show them the good work your nonprofit is doing and tell them that you’re happy to wait until they decide.

Best practice: Prepare the answers to some common questions. Some examples are,
– How many people are you looking at helping with the raised money?
– How will the donor’s contribution help?
– What happens if you don’t raise enough money?…and so on.

7. Wrap your talk with a commitment

If the donor couldn’t make a decision, get a commitment from them for another call. Give them the time to talk to their spouse/parents as appropriate, and ask them to reach out to you in case of any queries.

Best practice: Use the points from your fundraising ask script and add a personal touch to make it seem like a conversation. It helps to practice the script with your peers. Use simple sentences that any citizen can understand.

8. Follow up as necessary

Make sure your solicitation doesn’t end there. Send your donor a thank you message once they’ve donated and allow them to talk to you. This will strengthen your relationship with the donor and increase their trust in you.

Be ready for the next steps

If your prospect says ‘yes’, you need to have a plan and resources to take the next step. Your fundraising team, too, needs to know what they need to do and have access to all the right tools. 

What if your donor decides to make an online donation and asks you to direct them?

One way is to text them a link to your donation page. Text fundraising is a popular way to collect donations through a text message. 

See how it works and how you can implement it.

Featured image: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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