Rules of Solicitation: The Script

After only 10 minutes into the conversation, the prospect said, “I am satisfied that you have met all the requirements for fundraising success that I requested several months ago. I’m ready to sign and pledge $2 million dollars to this effort.”

The two solicitors looked at each other in disbelief.

Carefully scripted, they were prepared to go into detail about the work of campaign committee—identifying prospects at the top of the pyramid, cultivating, soliciting, getting 100% of the board to commit with stretch gifts and preparing profession but simple collateral materials.

After a brief pause, one of them quickly thanked the donor. Ever eager to do a good job, the other pulled out the materials, and said, “Would you like to see the brochure we are using?”

The donor politely agreed and remarked that the brochure portrayed the case support in a compelling and visually appealing manner. But it didn’t end here.

Going back several years, this had not been an easy campaign to launch. There had been fits and starts with case adjustments and leadership turnover. This donor had been solicited months earlier, and had said that he would not commit until other leadership gifts were in, the cost of the construction finalized, and sufficient progress toward the goal had been demonstrated.

Since the script was no longer necessary as the rest of it dealt with making the case for this donor’s participation, the lead solicitor felt a little uncertain at how to proceed next.

So he said, “Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how we are going to raise all the rest of this money. We’ve got a ways to go, and if it doesn’t all come in as expected we might have to trim some of the campaign elements.”

The donor, looking puzzled, asked for more explanation. And the longer the explanation the more confused the donor became. He interrupted, and ended the meeting.

The second solicitor finally found the pledge letter, and gave it to the donor, who agreed to review it and get back to them. Words of gratitude were expressed but the awkwardness was palpable. What should have been a celebratory moment became one of uncertainty.

One of the cardinal rules of solicitation had been violated. Once the donor agrees to the gift, thank the individual, put away the script, and end the meeting.