For Impact


No More Peer-to-Peer Solicitations

Leadership and Boards | | Tom Suddes

I know you have been taught (brainwashed???) to believe that Major Gift “ASKS” are best if done “peer-to-peer”.

Don’t send someone else out to HUNT ANTELOPE!!!

Read these ten reasons … and see if it helps change the way you THINK!!


  1. DESIRE Volunteers: How many of your volunteers really, reeeally, REEEALLY like to ask people for money? If they don’t, they most likely lack 3 key ingredients for sales success — passion, presentation skills and persistence.

    Staff: It’s your mission and responsibility to Present the Opportunity … to Qualified Prospects. Therefore, you should have the passion to present and to be persistent. Plus, Presenting the Opportunity is fun and satisfying if you know what you’re doing.

  2. DEALING WITH OBJECTIONS Volunteers: Most fold after the first “no”, stumbling block, question or challenge.

    Staff: Professionals realize any objection is not personal, that true selling begins after you hear a “no”, and that dialogue is better than debate!

  3. ENTHUSIASM Volunteers: They are enthusiastic about your institution or program … but certainly not about asking their friends for money.

    Staff: Your attitude is directly proportionate to your sense of impact on your institution, and your value to it. Your enthusiasm builds as you ask and receive.

  4. TIMEVolunteers: They have none. They have many other priorities and obligations that come before their volunteer duties.

    Staff: Major Gifts / Sales solicitation should be your number-one priority.

  5. ACCOUNTABILITY/FOLLOW-UPVolunteers: There isn’t any “I saw so-and-so at a party … and I think they probably could do something.”

    Staff: Professionals do a Memo for the Record on every call. They send a great follow-up letter summarizing the request. They make a phone call on a specific date to determine the level of commitment and finalize details with the investor.

  6. TRAININGVolunteers: Most volunteers did not take Major Gift Solicitation 101. Many don’t understand “sales.” Few have the time to become properly knowledgeable about your For Impact Organization/Institution and the investment opportunities available.

    Staff: Professional staffs should be well trained. Whether they read, listen to tapes, or attend training camps and seminars … great development professionals are knowledgeable about their field and their institution … and are constantly learning more.

  7. PREPARATION Volunteers: ‘Asking their secretary for directions on their way out the door’ is their idea of preparing for the call.

    Staff: Professionals prepare by reviewing the Strategy Checklist … and completing a Presentation Checklist (who, what, when, where, why, how) for every call, properly researching the prospect relative to the level of request.

  8. THE CALL ITSELF Volunteers: “So, how’s your family? Your golf game? ‘Hem, haw’ … I got your (3×5) card… ‘they’ want money … just do what you can.” Volunteers rarely request a specific amount for a specific project.

    Staff: Great development professionals know the six essential requirements for Major Gift solicitation. They ask questions … listen intensely … respond to the investor’s feelings … react with flexibility, creativity and speed … deal with challenges.

  9. TRADING DOLLARS Volunteers: Volunteers know that whatever they ask of one of their peers this week will be asked of them for that prospect’s favorite cause next week!!!. This “chit” system, or “trading dollars,” does not allow for aggressively MAXIMIZING relationships and commitments!

    Staff: Professionals can be objective, equitable and professionally aggressive in helping the prospective investor feel great about maximizing their commitment.

  10. SKILL Volunteers: Most are amateurs (at development/fundraising).

    Staff: You’re professionals. As one of the all-time great solicitors, J. Barry McGannon (former Chancellor of St. Louis University) asks, “Would IBM, or any major business, entrust its biggest customers to an amateur?” Of course not. IBM wants more quality control than that, and so should we! Now, more than ever, development is a sophisticated, challenging and competitive profession that requires total commitment.

Special Note: This is not meant to be a “Bash the Volunteer” list. Rather, it’s an attempt to help you RETHINK/REINVENT the role of your volunteer leaders.

They are your best resource!