Have you ever asked someone for a major gift and they said “No”? I have, and it’s not nearly as much fun as when your donor says yes.
However, “No” is an answer you need to be prepared for if you’re going to be a successful major gift fundraiser.
You know the saying, if you’re not getting any no’s, you’re probably not asking enough. Well, it’s true.
And “No” may not be as bad as you think.
Transform “No” into “Yes” by Preparing for the Inevitable
Remember, no doesn’t mean never. It simply means not now. It’s up to you to find out what needs to happen to turn that No into a Yes.
So the question becomes what should you do to prepare for the inevitable No.
1. Don’t take it personally.
First, don’t take it personally. I realize that’s easier said than done, but don’t. It’s not personal.
You may have heard that the best sales people are those who believe every “no” gets them closer to a “yes”. Let’s pretend like in sales that one out of every ten people you ask says yes, and the other nine say no. That means you’ll need to do a lot of asking before you get to the yeses in sales. And, it’s the same in fundraising.
Also, if you take no personally, it will come out in your interactions with donors. You may appear desperate and frustrated, and then no donors will want to support you or meet with you. So brush off the no’s when they come.
And when you do get a No…
2. Ask good questions.
When as donor says No, it’s important to continue the conversation.
You can ask them questions such as:
- What did you have in mind?
- How would you like to continue our conversation?
- When should I follow up?
You can say something like:
I understand what I asked for doesn’t work for you. Can you tell me a little more about what you had in mind?
Or try this:
Is there something about our request that isn’t quite right?
These questions don’t necessarily come naturally. They take practice in order for you to feel comfortable saying them, especially in a pressured situation like when a donor says no.
Which brings us to…
3. Practice your response.
Finally, each and every time you prepare to ask a donor for a gift, it’s important to think about how you’ll react to whatever a donor says to your request.
This means practicing how you’ll respond to Yes, No, or even a Maybe — a response I like even more than a Yes.
If you’re not getting no’s, you’re not asking enough!
What sort of things have you tried when a donor says “No” that have eventually lead to a “Yes”? Share your stories in the comments below.