I have been re-reading William Sturtevant's, The Artful Journey: Cultivating and Soliciting the Major Gift. This classic "how to" book for major gift fundraisers teaches a proven method to manage 100 high capacity donors a year, moving them through a process from getting their attention, gaining interest, telling the organization's story, making an ask for a specific dollar amount, then answering objections, and asking again. For want of a better term you could call this method, "tell and sell," much as in middle market insurance sales.
Sturtevant stresses that as gifts get larger, to the point of being sacrificial, they become both more reasoned and more emotional. Decisions take longer. More input is received from more people. What he does not say is that among those giving input to donors when the numbers are large will be their financial, tax, and legal advisors. So, in essence, Sturtevant's process has an unmanaged moment, in which the donor exits stage left to talk in private with advisors whom the fundraiser has never met. Then the donor comes back stage center and may say, "I have discussed this with my advisors, and they tell me that now is not a good time." At which point the fundraiser is "answering objections" as the door is closed.
Involving advisors early might be a good move in the "moves management" system recommended by the Sturtevant and others. When an advisor who is handling the client's overall affairs is asked about a big gift, the answer is often, "If that were a good idea I would have thought of it." That is, the advisor will emerge as a gatekeeper and door closer, if the advisor has not been appropriately cultivated or included. In plotting the game with and against the donor, you might as well plot with and against the advisors who may control the end game.
So, who controls the donor? Let us hope, rather, that what controls the process are the donor's own awakened ideals. As a fundraiser with ideals and humane skills yourself: Seek higher ground. On that higher ground help the donor articulate and advance an inclusive vision of self, family and community - the donor's vision of a successful life and legacy. Weave your organization's story into the story the donor tells of a successful life journey. As long as the highest vision prevails, and you are there in the process, accompanying the donor as a trusted confidante, the money will move to good purposes, your own included. Try that more open and elevated process 10% of time, with donors with whom you have rapport, and I will bet that in 24 months the dollars raised will exceed all that are raised with the 90% of time in a traditional "tell and sell" method like Sturtevant's. But, hey, I have a job regardless. Your's may be dependent on month by month results, so don't drop the 90% until the 10% pays off.