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The Sweet Spot: Asking for Major Gifts and Getting Them with Roberta A. Healey. Roberta A. Healey. 30+ years -- non-profit management and development Senior Member, Farr Healey Consulting, LLC Chief Development Officer -- faith-based organizations

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The Sweet Spot: Asking for Major Gifts and Getting Them with Roberta A. Healey

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Roberta A. Healey

  • 30+ years -- non-profit management and development
  • Senior Member, Farr Healey Consulting, LLC
  • Chief Development Officer -- faith-based organizations
  • Board President -- Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Founding Member of American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
  • Adjunct Faculty at Villanova University
tonight s goals

To learn:

  • Where Major Gifts fit in the overall context of philanthropy
  • Why donors -- of several distinct types -- decide to offer their welcome support
  • How to customize cultivation for the individual donor
  • How to make the “ask”
  • How to follow up -- whether the initial response is “yes” or “no”
annual giving
Annual Giving
  • Any organized effort by a gift-supported organization to obtain gifts on a yearly basis, usually to support operations.
    • Individuals
    • Organizations

Roberta A. Healey

major capital giving
Major/Capital Giving
  • Funds provided for buildings, including construction and equipment, endowment and scholarship.
    • Individuals
    • Organizations

Roberta A. Healey

planned giving
Planned Giving
  • The integration of sound personal, financial and estate planning concepts with the individual donor's plans for lifetime testamentary giving.
    • Individuals

Roberta A. Healey

pyramid of giving
Pyramid of Giving



Few donors, large gifts

Major Gifts

Smaller number of donors,

larger gifts

Annual Gifts

Large number of donors

gifts usually smaller

Original Pyramid of Giving – James M. Greenfield CFRE

Roberta A. Healey

identifying individual prospect and donor characteristics
Identifying Individual Prospect and Donor Characteristics

Understanding Motivation

Roberta A. Healey

external environment us societal transformations
External Environment: US Societal Transformations
  • Longevity and Technology are redefining community. 
    • Economic Instability
    • Increasing Cynicism
    • Bonds of Community Decreasing

Roberta A. Healey

adult generations in the us booster mature
Adult Generations in the US: Booster Mature
  • Feel they have earned the rewards of life by hard work and careful planning
    • Work is an unavoidable obligation
    • Look on the futures a rainy day to work for … patient abut the time it takes to achieve results
    • Education is a dream not a birthright
    • Tends to trust large traditional institutions
  • Security – Safety – Stability
  • “We”
  • “No Sweat”

Roberta A. Healey

adult generations in the us boomer midlife
Adult Generations in the US: Boomer Midlife
  • Feel entitled to the rewards of life because they have earned them
    • Work is an exciting adventure
    • Orientation to the present not the future. Looks for tangible immediate outcomes
    • Education is a birthright
    • Limited trust in large traditional institutions
  • Identity – Personal Growth – Meaning – Materialism
  • “Me”
  • “No Problem”

Roberta A. Healey

adult generations in the us buster young adult
Adult Generations in the US: Buster Young Adult
  • Defining idea is diversity … style is entrepreneurial
    • Feel entitled to rewards because they are needed
    • Work is a difficult challenge … education is way to get where you are going.
    • Future is uncertain but manageable
    • Large institutions are suspect and traditions questionable
  • Identity – Relationships – Community
  • “Us”
  • “No Fear”

Roberta A. Healey

seven faces of philanthropy jossey bass 1994 russ alan prince and karen maru file















Seven Faces of PhilanthropyJossey Bass, 1994: Russ Alan Prince and Karen Maru File

Roberta A. Healey

prospect donor characteristics
Prospect/Donor Characteristics
  • Younger Prospect/Donor
    • Specific goals and definite ideas
    • More likely to remain engaged with project
    • Want to have an impact, support their societal priorities
    • Augment estate, meet tax planning goals
    • Seek leverage – require feedback

Roberta A. Healey

cultivation considerations
Cultivation Considerations
  • Younger Prospect/Donor
    • Straightforward approach
    • Explain financial benefits to donor
    • Emphasize investment strategies and stewardship of gifts
    • Show how gift can help the family establish its legacy

Roberta A. Healey

prospect donor characteristics1
Prospect/Donor Characteristics
  • Older Prospect/Donor
    • Mission oriented
    • Loyal to charities that have been helpful to their families
    • Want to do the right thing…support the less fortunate and betterment of others
    • Seek security and immediate income benefits
    • Focus on economic benefits

Roberta A. Healey

cultivation considerations1
Cultivation Considerations
  • Older Prospect/Donor
    • Softer approach
    • Explain financial benefits and contribution to the future stability of charity.
    • Reinforce pride in doing something good.
    • Show how to endow annual support through a planned gift.

Roberta A. Healey

customize the cultivation conversation and the gift opportunity
Customize the Cultivation Conversation and the Gift Opportunity
  • Booster
  • Boomer
  • Buster
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Recognition

Roberta A. Healey

Making the Ask


Getting to Yes

Roberta A. Healey

the big moment the ask
The Big Moment – The Ask
  • “We would like you to consider.”
  • “We only ask this of our top donors.”
  • “This gift is the cornerstone of the students’ (patient’s, client’s) future.”
  • We think you share the vision.”
  • “We don’t take this kind of request lightly – but think you feel as passionately about this as we do.”
  • “Your leadership investment will open doors and pave the way for others to follow in your example of generosity.

Roberta A. Healey

short and sweet then say nothing
Short and sweet then say . . .NOTHING!

Give them time!

Roberta A. Healey

to a fundraiser
To a fundraiser –

“No” ….

doesn’t mean “No”

“No” …

means -- “Not Yet”

Roberta A. Healey

Turning …

Stumbling Blocks

Into …

Building Blocks

Roberta A. Healey

case 1

Case # 1

That’s too much money you’re asking for.

Roberta A. Healey

case 11
Case # 1
  • We only ask this of our top donors.
  •  I hope you take that as a compliment. Our intent was to make sure you were among the first donors given an opportunity to take a significant leadership role in this project.
  •  I hope you agree a gift like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It will literally transform the lives of many families for generations to come.
  • You are but one of the very few people we can turn to and ask for this very important gift.

Roberta A. Healey

case 2

Case # 2

I’m not interested in supporting the ______.

Roberta A. Healey

case 21
Case # 2
  • We have been talking about this for a while and from our previous conversations I thought you were interested. Please share with me where your main interest is today.
  •  As you know, we are working on several major program and physical improvements. Please tell me which one is your priority interest today.
  •  As you know, you and your family are very important donors. We always want to hear your ideas and input. Please tell me what programs you have the greatest interest in supporting?
  •  I am very grateful for your honesty. Can we talk for a few minutes about the project you are most interested in?

Roberta A. Healey

case 3

Case # 3

You flatter me, but I’m not as wealthy as Warren Buffett or Bill Gates.

Roberta A. Healey

case 31
Case # 3
  • We understand it is a very large amount – and you are one of the few benefactors we could ask to consider a leadership gift of this size.
  •  Is it the size of the gift or the fact that we asked you now that seems most troubling?
  •  I think you know your investment in this project will pave the way for others to follow your leadership and generosity.
  •  I can only imagine the demands on your financial resources. I believed from our earlier conversations that you planned to take a significant role in making this project a reality.

Roberta A. Healey

case 4

Case # 4

I can’t give you an answer now.

Roberta A. Healey

case 41
Case # 4
  • We recognize that this is an important decision and we certainly want you to take the time you need to consider this gift opportunity. What can we provide to help you consider your decision?
  •  Knowing you need time to discuss this with ________ (whomever is significant in the decision), I hope you will tell me your personal feelings and reactions about the gift idea we just discussed.
  •  I know you need to consider this together. What questions do you have today that would help you get started thinking about this?  
  • I know you will spend a lot of time discussing this as you make your decision. We hope you will keep in mind the joy your gift will bring to all those people you have had such an interest in for such a long time.

Roberta A. Healey

stewardship checklist when the answer is yes
Stewardship ChecklistWhen the Answer is Yes
  • Reconfirm the importance of the gift
  • Set date for next meeting/gift receipts
  • Discuss recognition and publicity: internal & external
  • Schedule donor visit to your organization
  • Contact reports
  • Several thank yous: leadership, volunteers, awardees
  • Call periodically to “check in”
  • Send articles about the gift
  • Invitations to events
  • Annual Reports
  • Cards: birthday, anniversary, etc.
  • Send progress updates – emphasize the importance of the gift.

Roberta A. Healey

  • Gifts meet your donor’s needs and goals
  • Gifts meet your needs and goals
  • Everyone, especially you, is well pleased!

Roberta A. Healey

thank you
Thank You
  • 610-996-4650

Roberta A. Healey


More Opportunities in this year’s Governance Matters Series

1 more webinar:

  • 2/10 -- Train Your Trustees: Short Fundraising Exercises for Board Meetings Irene McHenry and David Tomlin

3Regional workshops

  • 2/7 -- Friends School, Mullica Hill
  • 4/4 -- Mary McDowell Center for Learning
  • 4/18 -- San Francisco Friends School

Audio/video recordings at