By:Steven Murphy, Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions
Every fundraiser has heard it a thousand times: “I don’t know how you can ask people for money all the time; I could never do that!” I used to feel that way too, before I learned to Love the Ask.
Here are three things I learned along the way:
- Asking is not about convincing people to do something they do not want to do. Our powers of persuasion have little to do with whether or not a gift will be given. It is not on us to charm, manipulate or try to control the behavior of our prospects. Whether or not a gift is given is not up to you!
- Asking is about listening to people’s experience and helping them name their passion for your mission. Successful fundraisers listen far more than they talk. Our job is to get our donors talking. “When did you first get involved with our organization?” “Who were the people that inspired you to become a donor?” “What has your experience with us been like?” Practice following a question with another question and then another. This will help you keep the focus on the donor and what they have to say, and keep you from talking at the prospect and dominating the conversation.
- Asking is easier when you let the donor know you are listening! Actively respond to the prospect’s stories. Open your eyes wide, raise your eyebrows, nod, smile when appropriate and don’t be afraid to laugh openly with the donor when he or she tells a story meant to evoke a laugh, or to express sympathy when the story suggests it. Don’t rush to The Ask. Let the donor get there in due time by telling you why he or she loves your organization.
I learned to Love the Ask when I realized what a great experience it is to be with people who are generous of heart. Generous giving follows from generosity of the heart. Chances are, you would not be sitting down with a major prospect unless they have already—time and again—demonstrated their commitment to your mission and their personal generosity. You are there to listen to their stories, to enjoy your mutual passion for your organization’s mission, and to think together about its future. You’ll enjoy being a fundraiser more when you learn to Love the Ask!