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Imagine you are looking to remodel your kitchen and you call several contractors to come out and give you an estimate. How would you feel if one of those contractors started unloading their truck in your driveway before you ever had a conversation? You open your garage door and there are tools and 2×4s strewn about. You might respond with, “What the heck are you doing? We have not even had a conversation. You don’t even know what I am trying to do!” How many times do we do that with a prospect or donor? We start by going right for the cash gift, or, if the donor mentions planned giving, we start talking about the gift options before we have any idea of what the donor wants to do and the impact they want to have.

I have seen many well-intentioned board members say, “We need to push charitable gift annuities on our older donors.” My response is (a) we don’t want to push anything on anyone and (b) we first need to determine what the donor would like to do. Sometimes a donor will lead with the gifts. By all means, we want to give the donor what they want, and we want to make it easy for them to make a gift. At the same time, we want to make sure the gift is in both their best interest and ours. If you can bring the donor into a “why and how to make a gift” conversation, they may wind up making a larger gift of a completely different type with a different asset.

Action Steps:

  • Carry your toolkit with you wherever you go. Fill that tool kit with lots of options for your donors (cash and noncash)
  • Leave your toolkit “in the truck” until the donor is ready to explore options.