On this episode of Bloomerang TV, THE Fundraising Coach and Director of the Nonprofit Academy, Marc A. Pitman, stops by to talk about getting over the fear of asking for a donation.
Steven: Hello. Thanks for being here for this week’s episode of Bloomerang TV. Thanks for joining us. My name is Steven. As always, I’m here as your host. Today I’m joined by my good pal, Marc Pitman. He is The Fundraising Coach. He’s also director of The Nonprofit Academy. Hey there, Marc. How’s it going?
Marc Pitman: It’s going really well, thanks. How are you doing?
Steven: Good. Thanks for being here. Maybe you could tell people a little bit about what you’re up to these days. I doubt anyone doesn’t recognize you in your signature bow tie. You’re so well known. What’s going on these days?
Marc Pitman: The Escher bow tie on today.
Steven: What’s going on? What’s The Nonprofit Academy?
Marc Pitman: I’m really excited about this. The Nonprofit Academy was started about two years ago by Kirsten Bullock in Kentucky. It’s not just small nonprofits, but there are certain nonprofits where private coaching isn’t an option for them budget wise. This is just a more affordable option. It’s a membership based system. We have monthly live webinars. We have Q and A office hours monthly with me. There’s a private Facebook group where they can all interact with each other, Nonprofit Academy members.
I’m really excited about it. It’s something I’ve wanted to do. I have a Fundraising Coach University for my private coaching clients that has all my products, Fundraising Coach stuff, in there for 24/7 access, but this has got a slightly different bent. It’s really been good for the last two years. There’s already a catalog of webinars in there. There are industry experts going on. I ought to get you guys to do something on database…
Marc Pitman: …on some aspect. Yeah, I’m really excited, because it just expands the… Part of my mission is to make fundraising training ridiculously easy to find.
Marc Pitman: This is just extending my ability to do that with more people.
Steven: That’s awesome. Yeah, Kirsten’s awesome, too. You put out a lot of great content. You’ve got an awesome blog. Your newsletter is great. You do a lot of coaching. What you focus on it seems like is asking, right? There are a lot of topics in fundraising, but you focus on asking because asking is hard.
Marc Pitman: Yeah.
Steven: Sometimes it’s awkward. Why do you think it is that way? Why is asking so hard and so scary?
Marc Pitman: There are so many things. Asking kind of gets right down to the core of who we are. It deals with our fear of rejection. It deals with how we interact, how we deal with money issues.
When I was doing a leadership academy for the NCDC, the National Catholic Development Conference, in Chicago in April there were 40 senior leaders of 40 religious communities and universities in all together. We were talking. We were unpacking the UnderDeveloped study that CompassPoint did in 2013 about how most CEOs want to fire their fundraiser and most fundraisers want to quit. That’s basically what the report showed.
One of the things we talked about was our own issues with money. What were the messages about money when we were raised in our families? Was it don’t ask, don’t tell? Was it it’s dirty, we don’t talk about that stuff? Those things, even though we’re not aware of them, they get right into the ask.
Marc Pitman: You’re looking a little… I’m seeing your brow furrowed. Is there a problem with our connection, or are we still good?
Steven: I think we’re good.
Marc Pitman: Okay, cool, great. My computer’s just heating up. The little squirrels are working really hard on fixing it.
Dealing with our own issues with money I think is really important. The other part, too, is everything around fundraising is fun. We’re having friends. We’re inviting people to our vision. People are getting excited and thrilled, and we’re getting to plug into their values. Asking puts them on the spot.
Marc Pitman: That’s why it can be really awkward, because we’re asking. It’s no longer friendly. It’s asking for some sort of commitment, some sort of action. While it can be done in a friendly manner, it’s different. It’s tangibly different.
Steven: Right. How do you get over that? How do you kind of release your own baggage and get over all the things that you just said? What do you tell people to get over that fear?
Marc Pitman: Wow, there’s a great book.
Steven: It is a good book.
Marc Pitman: There’s so much to do with that. What I don’t want people to do is go into this navel gazing introspection that causes them to put off the ask. Our nonprofits could raise a lot more money if more of us would just get out there and ask. I had a client say that we facilitate the velocity, my job was to facilitate their velocity, make it go faster.
The first thing I like to do is have people get clear on their ask. What is it that they’re asking for? The four steps that I use are get REAL – because I’m a Gen X’er – research, engage, ask, and love. The R stands for research. Find out what is it you’re trying to actually fundraise for. I asked one guy. He runs a bunch of nonprofits. I asked him how much he needed to raise this year. It took him 20 minutes to answer the question.
Marc Pitman: He has fundraising which is part of the revenue stream. There are other things. He just couldn’t answer it. He’s good at what he does, and he’s opening a third one overseas. It wasn’t that he’s bad or new. It just took him a long time. Researching what you’re trying to raise.
Then, figuring out what ask levels are right with that. Giftrangecalculator.com is something I’ve set up. There are others on the web. You can just search gift range calculator and it shows you. Strategically, we studied this since World War Two. We know what levels we should be asking people for. The biggest mistake we often make, especially new people, is if they’re raising $100,000 they say oh, we only need 100 people to give $1000, or we need 1000 people to give $100.
Marc Pitman: Mathematically, it’s right, but in my experience – I don’t know about yours – we’re not mathematical human beings.
Marc Pitman: We’re emotional. There are some people that need to make big gifts and some people that need to make small gifts. The researching, and then you can start building a prospect list.
Having that plan gets you over the fear, because all of a sudden you’re seeing oh, there are steps. It’s not just everybody’s a potential donor. Sitting by yourself at a desk thinking you have to raise a whole bunch of money can be so overwhelming. It can just feel like all the pressure’s pushing on you, because you just don’t know where to get started.
Marc Pitman: Start getting toe holds and looking at what you’re trying to raise for, what levels you need to ask for, who those people might be, and maybe Google’ing those people to see if there are connections, looking through your database to see their notes that are there, what kind of interactions have they had. That will lead you to the engagement which is getting to know them, dating them, asking – which is actually putting them on the spot basically. Then, loving them, which is the fourth step, which is thanking them and showing them they had an impact.
If I could just ramble a little bit longer…
Steven: Oh, please.
Marc Pitman: …one of the things that makes it bad, I think, about fundraising, or fearful, is that we don’t really do a good job of showing donors that they’re the hero. Tom Hearn