People say the number one reason they don’t give charitably is because they haven’t been asked. The American Red Cross has utilized this message in its "Consider Yourself Asked" ad campaigns geared to motivate blood donations. While the principle behind this campaign is a good one, a mass message blast to "consider yourself asked" is unlikely to generate major-gift support. A personal connection is vital, and so is adequate preparation.
First, know what your prospect is interested in. If you can find the information through research or word of mouth, look for records of or his past donations, membership in professional associations, or participation in other organizations.
Consider what they already know about your group, what they may still need to know, and what they know about your group vs. other groups. A person isn’t likely to make as high a donation as she currently makes to her favorite charity, but you can build up to this level.
With corporate donors, how you position your request can help. For example, make your request less of a sales pitch/solicitation and more of a discussion or exploration of the corporation’s and organization’s mutual interests. See the principles of value-driven donor development for more on this.