The only unique responses you will ever hear

July 14, 2017

Most people aren’t comfortable asking for money. As a matter of fact, the only people that are comfortable asking for money are our children! Most people’s discomfort comes from a fear of the unknown. So, the entire secret of fundraising is as follows — you will only hear five unique responses. Granted, there may be some polite and some not-so-polite variations of these responses, but you will still only hear one of five unique responses.

If there are only five answers, you can be prepared to respond to each of them. Now the mystery is gone! There is no fear of the unknown.

So, let’s look at an example. After setting up a face-to-face meeting, the canvasser asks Mrs. Jones to consider a gift of $2,000 per year for five years for a total of $10,000. What are the five answers? (try to guess before scrolling down.)

1.   YES — well that was easy (maybe even too easy). Thank the donor, do whatever paperwork is necessary, etc.

2.   NO — this is peculiar. You are meeting with the prospective donor face-to-face. They could have declined the meeting, to begin with. Obviously, there is some interest or concern with your organization. Perhaps a discussion on how to turn the no into a yes might be appropriate. Perhaps it is not now. Perhaps it is not for this project.

3.   MAYBE — this is a great answer. It means that the prospect has heard your thoughtful request and wants some time to think about it. Arrange a follow-up and go from there.

Those were the three easy answers. As I had mentioned earlier, there are polite and not-so-polite versions of these answers. Can you guess what the other two are?

Hint — it has to do with asking for a specific amount.

4.   MORE — break out the good stuff! This has happened (and will happen again)

And, of course,

5.   LESS — they still want to support your organization, but at a lower level (this too is a good response).

Well, folks, that is the entire mystery of fundraising. The fear of the unknown is now gone. So, when people’s great fear of asking for money is boiled down, it is usually “I don’t know what to say when they respond”. Now you do.