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Be careful what you ask for

In our community, there’s a twenty-year-old story that still makes the rounds.

A dynamic man was recruited as one of the key volunteers in a capital campaign. Eager to make his mark at a call on a major account, he downplayed the importance of some twenty thousand dollars offered for the campaign. He was there for eighty or a hundred thousand. The man doing this asking happened to have a strong sales personality. He was a “people person”. He got what he asked for and managed to make it all seem like fun.

The story took on legendary proportions.

I happened to be on a call when another very capable volunteer decided to try the same strategy with the same account on a different fundraising campaign. This time, the results were the exact opposite. But times had changed for this company and we were dealing with a different person.

We came away with nothing.

For me, the fundraising lesson was this: While there are exceptions to every rule, they really do prove the rule. If you are working with a volunteer who has the personality and skills in the man in the first story, and the timing is also right, don’t try to hold him or her back. Roll with the punches and see what happens.

But most volunteers—and most professional fundraisers, for that matter—aren’t like that. We are more steady producers than marvelous homerun hitters.

Generally, once the range of an ask has been determined by a fundraising committee, stick to that plan.

Fundraisers all hate the idea that we may have “left money on the table” but better to have a bit of that than to risk everything and come away empty.

Save the spur-of-the-moment plunging for your Texas Hold’em Fun Poker Night Fundraiser.

Permission is granted to quote from this Article in full or in part as long as the author's name is acknowledged.

To comment on this Article, email Terry Carroll at terry [snail] carrollgroup [period] ca -> mailto:terry [snail] carrollgroup [period] ca

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