The worst thing you can hear after asking someone for a gift is “yes.” Why? Because it means you could have asked for more. But what do you do when you hear “no?”
Whether you’re on the front lines or working in a call center, the ability to overcome objections is a skill that every fundraiser needs. To keep the conversation alive after someone declines your initial request, you should:
- Keep it positive – Remember that little yeses lead to bigger yeses.
- Be specific, confident, and concise – Avoid sluggish talk like “well then” or “how about.”
- Acknowledge their concerns – Lead with phrases like “I understand” and “I’m sorry to hear that.”
- Insert a reason before each subsequent ask.
While it’s easy to let “no” get you down, it can actually be a chance to engage a prospect in a meaningful conversation and (possibly) change the way they think about your institution. Here are some common objections, with suggestions for how you can respond. If they say:
- “This is not a good time,” then you say, “Of course. Is there a better time when we could call you back?”
- “That’s more than I can afford,” then you say, “I understand. Is there a specific amount that would be more comfortable for you?”
- “I had a bad experience with the institution,” then you say, “I’m sorry to hear that. Have you considered that your gift could ensure that others have a better experience?”
- “I don’t like the direction the organization is headed,” then you say, “I’ll make a note of your concern. Please know that the institution listens carefully to its supportive alumni.”
- “My gift won’t make a difference,” then you say, “Every gift counts. Participation rates can have a positive impact on institutional rankings and often influence major donors and foundations.”
Sometimes no simply means no. Other times it’s just an opportunity in disguise.
Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Listening to Donors Strategically.