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Winning Gifts: Make Your Donors Feel Like Winners

Thomas C. Wilson

ISBN: 978-0-470-12834-3 January 2008 336 Pages


The secret to getting gifts and making donors feel like winners.

Know the best approaches to people-centered fundraising. Understand the role of executive director, fundraisers, program managers, and volunteers in the win-win framework, the importance of listening, the case for a donor-centered approach, and the direct ways these concepts can be applied in a variety of fundraising settings. Includes numerous real-world examples taken from the author's own experience as chief philanthropy officer in nonprofits and as a leader in a well-known national nonprofit consulting company.  

Thomas D. Wilson is the vice president and western regional manager for Campbell & Company. His career in fundraising spans more than 25 years and includes building successful campaigns from inception, reinvigorating stalled initiatives, and board/staff training.

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Preface xv

Acknowledgment xvii

About the Author xix


Winning versus Losing 2

How do You Know if It’s a Winning Gift? 4

Why Philanthropic Fundraising? 5

Inspire Giving 5

The Six I’s of Philanthropic Fundraising 6

Six I’s: Step #1—Identify, Qualify, and Research 8

Six I’s: Step #2—Introduce, Interact, and Connect 12

Six I’s: Step #3—Interests and Needs (Listen) 13

Six I’s: Step #4—Inform and Deepen Understanding 13

Six I’s: Step #5—Involve, Acknowledge, and Engage 14

Six I’s: Step #6—Invest, Recognize, Steward 15

Read On 15

CHAPTER 1 People Centered Fundraising 17

Start with Peoples’ Needs 18

How Does Your Organization Benefit the Community? 19

A Public Library 20

A Graduate University 23

Take a Marketing Approach 23

Sales 24

Marketing 25

Importance of Strategic Planning 28

Drucker Self-Assessment Tool 29

How to Be People Centered 31

Individuals 32

In Planned Estate Gift Fundraising 35

Foundations 36

Corporations 37

Communications and Learning Styles 39

Involve Volunteers in Your Fundraising 42

Staff-Driven Fundraising? 45

How to Help Your Organization Become People Centered 46

Apply What You’ve Learned 48

CHAPTER 2 Donor Values 51

Giving U.S.A. —Sources and Trends in Giving 54

Individuals 56

Sheehy’s New Passages 57

Implications of Americans Living Longer on Estate-Gift Fundraising 59

Andrew Carnegie—The Gospel of Wealth 61

Bill Gates 62

Warren Buffett 63

Sandy Weill 64

The Seven Faces of Philanthropy 65

Insights on the Faces 65

Do Tax Incentives Drive Philanthropy? 67

The Millionaire Next Door 68

Women in Philanthropy 72

Millionaire Women Next Door 75

Analytical Donors 76

Family-Advised Funds 77

Leaving a Legacy 77

Foundation Values 78

Community Foundations 80

Corporate Motivations for Giving 81

Why Is All of This Important? 83

Apply What You’ve Learned 84

CHAPTER 3 Listen 87

Become a Deep Listener 88

What Others Advise on Listening 91

Share Yourself 97

Collective Listening 98

Listening to Create a Major Gifts Club 99

Written Surveys 100

Participative Focus Groups 103

Board and Strategic Planning Retreats 109

Listening to a Specific Donor 109

Discovery Calls 110

Requesting the Interview 111

Thank-You Visits 112

Philanthropic Market Research Studies 114

Listening Tools 114

Supplemental Interviews by Staff 116

What Is Different with Corporations and Foundations? 116

Listening to Corporations 116

Listening to Foundations 118

Readiness Interviews after the Study 119

Listening during the Ask 120

Listen for Gifting Noises 121

When You’re Invited to Listen 122

Apply What You’ve Learned 123


Gladwell—The Tipping Point 129

The Law of the Few 129

Champions 130

Connectors 131

Salespeople 132

The Stickiness Factor 133

The Power of Context 134

Implications for Philanthropic Fundraising 135

Cialdini—Ethical Influence 136

#1 Reciprocation—Be the First to Give 137

#2 Scarcity—Unique Features, Exclusive Information 138

#3 Authority—Show Knowing, Admit Weakness First 138

#4 Commitments—From Public Positions (Small and Build) 139

#5 Liking—Make Friends to Influence People 140

#6 Consensus—Unleash People Power by Showing

Responses of Others 140

Summary 141

CHAPTER 4 Make Your Case 143

Make Your Case Memorable 144

The Annual Fund Case 148

The Case for Building Campaigns 150

Building Budget Planning for Fundraising 153

The Case for Endowment 157

How Endowment Works 159

Endowment Examples 162

What to Do for Financially Fragile

Organizations 166

The Role of Planned Estate Gifts for Endowment Cases 172

The Case for Comprehensive Campaigns 173

Case Statement Formats 174

Presentation Guide 176

The Process of Case Refinement 178

Share Internally 178

Audition Externally 181

Processing the Complex Case 184

Importance of the One-on-One Interview 186

Lock in Your Case 187

Make a Movie 187

Make it Stick 188

Ways to Achieve Top-of-Mind Understanding of Your Case 190

Resurrecting Good Memories 191

Creating Memories 192

Importance of Mementos 193

Newsletters, Letters, and E-mail Communications 193

Mass and Target Marketing 194

Do You Always Need to Make Your Case? 197

Apply What You’ve Learned 200

CHAPTER 5 The Win-Win Ask 203

The Ideal Ask Team 205

Prepare for the Ask 210

The Written Proposal 212

How Much Should We Ask For? 213

Recruiting and Preparing the Ask Team 216

The Pregnant Pause 219

Final Preparation Steps 220

Make the Ask 221

Asking Tools 221

Popping the Question 225

The Role of Challenge Gifts 226

The Triple Ask 228

What’s Different about Corporate Requests? 229

How Do Foundation Requests Work? 231

If You Get an ‘‘I Need to Think About It’’ 232

If You Get a ‘‘No’’ 233

If You Get a ‘‘Yes’’ 234

Thank the Donor 236

Detect and Conquer Asking Obstacles 236

#1 Don’t Understand the Impact of the Gift 237

#2 Outrageous Goal 238

#3 Lack of Information 239

#4 Focus Diffusion 241

#5 No Transaction 242

#6 Can’t Say the Number 243

#7 One Leg at a Time 244

#8 Don’t Want to Ask My Friends 244

#9 Can’t Ask My Family 246

#10 Telephobia 247

#11 Image Rejection 248

#12 Overpreparation 249

#13 Disorganized 250

#14 Afraid to Talk about Death 251

Personalize These Obstacles 252

Summarizing the Win-Win Ask 253

Apply What You’ve Learned 253

CHAPTER 6 After Winning the Gift 255

A Thank-You System 256

Involve Your Asking Team 257

Others Can Participate in the Fun of Thanking Donors 258

Thresholds of The Thank-You System 260

Tier One—All Annual Gifts of $5,000 or More and All Capital Gifts of $25,000 or More 260

Tier Two—All Annual Gifts of $1,000 or More and All Capital Gifts of $10,000 or More 261

Tier Three—All Annual Gifts Up to $1,000 and All Capital Gifts Up to $10,000 262

Gifts of Stock and Other Appreciated Assets 264

Recognition Opportunities 266

Power of Gift Clubs 267

Value of the Donor Wall 268

Commemorative Naming Opportunities 269

Recognition Events 274

Planned Estate Gifts 275

Kaizen 277

Stewardship 277

Reports 279

Events 281

Personal Stewardship 282

Director of Stewardship Movement 283

Others Are Starting to Hold You Accountable 283

Good Stewardship Is Good for Fundraising 285

Apply What You’ve Learned 287

Coda—The Summary Review 289

Postlude 293

Appendixes 295

A—Definition of Steps in The Six I’s of Philanthropic Fundraising 297

B—Written Survey Form 299

C—Donor Bill of Rights 303

D—AFP Code of Ethics for Professional Philanthropic Fundraisers 305

E—Gentle Letter of Intent 307

Index 309