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Knowing What to Say to Get the Gift

Knowing what to say to get the giftIsn’t this one of the things that scares you the most about fundraising: Knowing what to say to get the gift?

The same goes for the marriage proposal or the sales pitch in business.

Knowing or not knowing what to say tends to trip us up. Then we become paralyzed or just skip making the ask altogether.

Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky’s adage of “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” is true in fundraising too.

You Can't Get the Gift You Don't Ask For

To take more “shots” or make more asks we actually have to move past our uncertainty about what to say.

I had my first job as an Executive Director when I was young and thought I knew everything about fundraising.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was fortunate to have two board members who insisted we always practice what we would say BEFORE we met with donors.

The focus on practicing donor asks that Nancy and Kathleen instilled in me is something I am grateful for today.

Unfortunately, at the time I felt role plays and practicing a donor ask felt silly, embarrassing, and like a waste of time.

How wrong I was.

After helping organizations raise $300 million from individual donors I can honestly say practice DOES make perfect. Or at least takes away the worry that you’ll stumble and say something wrong.

Thinking about and practicing your word choices ahead of time allows you to listen more carefully and handle the unknown with more ease.

Great conversation can lead to a great giftPractice can be the difference between a good conversation and a great conversation. Lack of practice can be the one thing that holds you back and leaves you wondering why others are better at asking then you are.

A few times a year I work in a group setting with nonprofit staff and board members for eight weeks practicing what to say at donor visits, board meetings and any public event.

Here are a few phrases to get you started. Practice using these with a colleague so you are certain you are heading into the meeting knowing what to say to get the gift:
[su_quote]Here’s what it takes to deliver our quality services. [rather than “what we need”][/su_quote] [su_quote]The gap we have between what we receive in government funding (or fees for service) vs what it truly takes to deliver xxx programs is ________[/su_quote] [su_quote]I’m here to invite you to make a financial contribution that equals your passion for our mission.[/su_quote]

Talk about the money it takes to do your work and the gift amount you are seeking. And practice!


Learn more about Lori’s June 13 Ignite Your Fundraising Results program where you’ll receive the confidence and practice to know what to say to get the gift.


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