The moment of truth in fundraising is the ASK. How do you know what to say and how to frame your ask? Finesse is everything in this dance with your donor.

Will your donor say YES or NO?

Here are some key pointers that can make the difference between your donor saying “yes” or “no” in your next solicitation.

1. Plan your visit.

Visualize the call – and visualize success.

Before the call, sketch out your agenda and key points. Make a list of all the reasons why your wonderful donor should say yes.

Go in a team. And plan who is going to say what.

Make a deal to kick each other under the table if you get off track or too longwinded. (this works!)

2.  Tune up your energy.

Your energy will be contagious in your visit with the donor. If you are feeling self conscious or nervous, your donor will feel it too.

It’s your responsibility to show your own enthusiasm and excitement for your cause and your project.

Infect your donor with happy energy – and help her feel the same way about the possibility of creating a better world.

3.  Make the ask into an opportunity.

Talking about what you want to accomplish as an opportunity brings incredible energy into the discussion.

It focuses the donor on what he or she wants to accomplish – a future vision of something wonderful.

You can say “we have the opportunity to do xxxx.”

If you reframe your solicitation into an opportunity, things change.

It’s no longer about the money. Instead it’s about the impact you and the donor will be making.  And it’s concrete.

And you can present the opportunity in terms of a story.  Remember what Tom Peters once said: “He who tells the best story wins.”

Listen to your donor!

4.  Use the phrase “wouldn’t it be wonderful if. . .”

This is a terrific phrase that evokes vision. It calls on the donor’s highest thinking about what’s possible for the community, or the world.

This idea paints a picture of a happy future.  You’re sketching out the wonderful results and impact your organization wants to accomplish.

And you are calling on the donor to actually join you in envisioning this happy future.

Talk about what you’ll be accomplishing together – with the donor’s investment.

5. Make it a two-way conversation.

You simply have to create interaction with your donor. Dialogue means give and take with the donor.

You need to be asking questions.

When the donor responds, you have to pause in your presentation to process what she is saying  – and then you adapt your conversation to go in that direction.

Follow what the donor wants to talk about.

As the terrific guys at For Impact say, “it’s engaging the prospect in the presentation… it’s making the presentation about the prospect, not about what you have to say. It’s also about discovery, using questions to learn real information.”

I love the idea of making the presentation about the prospect, not about you. It’s a dramatic shift AND it works.

6. Spend 50% of your time listening.

Yes! Your donor said Yes!

That means you have to shut up and really listen.

If you are doing more than 50% of the talking, you lose.

You will never know what your donor’s hot buttons are unless you listen.

Use your radar to watch your donor’s body language. You can’t use your radar if you are talking.

Doing all the talking will do nothing for you. And if you become boring, you’re dead.  The way to keep your donor’s interest is to keep her talking.

Listen, and listen some more. That’s how you engage your donor.

7.  Use the words “consider a gift.”

Make it hypothetical; use the conditional tense.

Here are the words to use: “Would you consider a gift of xxxx?”

Or, “we were hoping you would consider a gift of xxx, to accomplish yyy.”

Framing the gift this way is much better manners and does not feel like arm twisting.

Moral of the story:

Asking can be an energizing, happy experience, or it can be a deadening, awful experience.  It’s all in your planning and your mind set.

Focus on impact, opportunity, vision and excitement. And then celebrate your donor when she says yes!

Which of these pointers do you think are the most important? What have I left out?

Leave a comment and tell us!