May 08, 2017

Veteran Major-Gift Fundraisers Offer Tips to Newcomers

Hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take." Those words inspire Doug Hartjes, vice president for development at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, who advises new major-gift fundraisers not to be afraid to let donors know what you’re looking for in a gift.

Mr. Hartjes is one of a handful of veteran fundraisers at the Association of Fundraising Professional’s recent conference in San Francisco who shared their advice for people new to the job.

Among their other tips: Make sure you’ve done your homework so that you’re asking a donor for the right gift at the right time. And before you meet with a donor, make sure to practice in front of a mirror or, as consultant Kishshana Palmer does, in front of an 11-year-old child. "Preteens are the best folks to give you some objections," she says.

Watch the video to hear more advice from Ms. Palmer and others based on their own personal experiences — plus some words of wisdom from a fundraiser’s grandmother: "A closed mouth doesn’t get fed." In other words, you have to ask.