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  • Jay Goulart

Fundraising Success Is Tied To One Key Thing

Updated: Jun 18

Truth be told that after 25 years in fundraising I can say that success is connected to 3 things. But this first one is the foundation.


I remember my first CASE/NAIS conference. Most of the sessions were relatively similar and I heard from participants underwhelming. Then I walked into the Lakeside room at the Hilton. I didn't realize at that moment how much the next 60 minutes would affect my professional life.

A fundraising consultant was leading this particular session, and it was on major gifts. The session quickly shifted from the usual broad brush strokes on the topic to the specifics of sitting with someone and asking them for their support and for a specific amount.


I remember sitting in the front row and being amazed at the consultant's comfort, confidence, and ability to move a role-playing prospect comfortably through a conversation about money. I knew then I had to master this talent to be of the greatest value to my institution.


Over the next several weeks, I began writing scripts and practicing them, so I was

prepared to get on the phone, meet people and ask that they support the annual fund at a specific level. The first few calls went great, but I experienced several pushbacks and objections for various and logical reasons. I wasn't prepared for those conversations. It didn't feel good sitting there, not knowing what I should say. Those experiences taught me the importance of preparation, practice, and the power of knowing your lines.


Looking back now at that experience slightly over two decades ago, I realize that those objections gave me the tools to design scripts that would help anyone manage those moments with any prospect. After making thousands of annual fund

solicitations, I've learned that objections fall pretty neatly into a few categories. As a result, I have prepared scripts and training to address each type of objection.


Those scripts grew our annual fund by over 275%. I wrote the major gift scripts that grew the average major gift by over 500% and helped us surpass our campaign goal by over 200%. There are powerful outcomes when you know precisely what to say, what to ask, and when to listen.


Walt Disney is famous for saying, "it all began with a mouse." In philanthropy, everything starts with successfully extending an investment invitation to a prospect.

Knowing how to design those conversations is more powerful than any campaign or strategic plan you could put in place. A plan without the key skills will never move the needle.


So start where it matters most. Make sure that you and your key people know how to design and execute the ask conversation.


If you would like to learn more about the scripts that have helped organizations raise $500 million click below.


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