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Viken Mikaelian CEO

Viken Mikaelian CEO

Majorgifts.com LLC

People Like to Give—Not to Be Asked to Give

It’s the same story in business. People like to buy, but do not like being sold to.

When it comes to fundraising, we are all in marketing and sales, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like a salesperson. Instead, act like a steward. Build relationships, and watch that endowment grow. These tips will help:

  • If you bring donors into your office, don’t have your chairs set with their backs facing the door. That resembles a car salesman’s office, and honestly, who wants that? Place your desk or chairs on an angle, or consider meeting somewhere else altogether, like a coffee shop or a small friendly corner room.
  • Don’t hang awards and degrees on the wall. Instead, have photos of people your work has benefited directly. Maybe some pictures of a few donors, too.
  • Dress for the occasion. And whatever the occasion, dress neatly.
  • Do your due diligence on the donor. Never wing it.
  • Never be pushy or too eager.
  • Never be too pliable. But also avoid overconfident, glib chatter and quick, scripted answers to everything.
  • Avoid pushing levels of giving — seek custom solutions instead.
  • Don’t evade questions.
  • Skip the standard fundraising language. Work on your conversation skills.
  • Do be too readily accessible.


fundraiser has a polished spiel. When interrupted, he can pick off where he left off like a recorder with a pause button. A steward gives thoughtful responses that engage the donor.

fundraiser pushes ways of giving that benefit the nonprofit. A steward seeks customized solutions to benefit both the donor and the nonprofit.

Stewards will raise more money and go much further in their careers.

Which would you rather be?

By the Numbers

Consider the recruitment opportunities for your organization that these stats indicate:

  • About 63 million Americans (25% of the adult population) volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • These people spend an average of 52 hours/year volunteering.
  • 72% of volunteers are involved with only one organization, while 18.3% are involved with two.

Random interesting stats presented monthly from various sources.