Critical Skills in Fundraising

Here are some critical skills to get under your belt when going out to raise funds for your organization.

Getting the Appointment Over the Phone 

It is very important that you meet with potential donors in person. To get this accomplished, though, you first must master the art of making the appointment.  Get a script together and practice on your own and then with another person (someone who will give you quality critique).

Phone Objections 

There are certain objections that always come up when asking people for donations:

– I’m not interested in giving.
– I already give to other organizations.
– I already give “this” much to your organization.
– I have to check with my spouse.
– We don’t have it in our budget.
– I don’t know enough about your organization.
– How can I know you’ll spend my money wisely?

These six statements echo most concerns donors have about giving to non-profits.  The key to answering them is to be sincere, attentive and as succinct as possible.  Some objections are beyond your control and some address key structural concerns within your organization. It is vital that your organization has a transparent method for handling finances and that you are consistently looking for ways to be good stewards of the money already given to you.  Make this information easily available, whether on the organization website or in a pamphlet that can quickly be mailed to the potential donor.  Having appropriate answers before the call is placed will give you a foundation and confidence.

The Visit 

When preparing for a visit there are a lot of questions going through your mind. The big ones can be as general or specific as you need them to be. What do you say? Where do you begin? What order do I need to proceed? It goes without saying to dress and behave professionally for the person you are meeting.

Handling the Responses 

Along with the objections given over the phone, there are the typical ones given once you have met with someone in person. The first is an agreement. “Yes, I will support you at $____.” The second is refusal: “No, I will not be able to support you.” The other responses are non-committal: “I’d like to think about it.” or “That amount is too high for me right now.” Handle these responses gracefully and be prepared with an appropriate answer or follow-up to keep the conversation going.

Ask for Referrals 

There is a bottom of the barrel for every fundraiser. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals, but be sensitive. Don’t push someone for names and numbers, but be sure to ask each person you approach if they know of anyone else who might be interested in donating to your organization.

Storytelling 

Storytelling is immensely important in fundraising these days. Share an account of someone who has given to your organization, a person on staff, a volunteer, or someone whose life was impacted by a service at the organization. A good story engages the listener and reaches into their hearts.  Insert stories into these meetings, committee meetings, a newsletter, email, Facebook and thank-you letters. For more on storytelling, check out this entry on our blog.

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This article was featured in the February 2012 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
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