Nonprofit Blog Carnival: Handling Objections

June 29, 2011

Nonprofit Giving CarnivalI am hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival featuring common objections. Each of the authors below has provided some great content for us. The question I asked was, “What are common objections you hear at your organization and how do you respond to them?”

“Most of our employees just don’t make enough to give to charity.” This is a quote that Jane Kuechle on her blog Kuechle Consulting heard many times when she worked for United Way. Jane submitted a great post, Who Has The Capacity to Give? This post is an excellent reminder that giving is valuable at ever level. Don’t pass over asking someone for a gift just because they are not a millionaire.

“We need to spread our sponsorship dollar to other areas of the community.” Brett Ridge from CDS Global for Nonprofits writes a great post, Sponsors Change Personnel, Can You Roll With The Punches? Here are some great words of wisdom as you are handling your corporate relationships as part of your sponsorship program. Thanks Brett!

“I already know the needs – use your time to talk with others who don’t.” Check out The Collins Group Blog’s post, Overcoming Objections from Obstacle to Opportunity. We all know the difficulty of setting up a meeting with a new prospect. Barb Maduell has some great tips for how to L.I.S.T.E.N. and how to start a fruitful conversation.

Responding to Negative Feedback. Pamela Grow in her post, Successful Fundraising – Not for the Thin Skinned, has some great advice about receiving negative feedback. Take one person’s negative feedback for what it is – one person’s feedback.

Submit your post to the July Nonprofit Blog Carnival, hosted by Britt Bravo, focusing on your best time management tips. Thank you for your great submissions!


Sending on Behalf

June 27, 2011

The most effective kind of referrals are those where a board member or friend of the organization directly introduces you to someone else. You will be the very most successful meeting new people if your board members take the time to prepare the individual you’d like to meet. However, that is not always the way that it works. Many times I will have people suggest I talk with someone in the community that they know but they are not willing to send an email to introduce me or make a phone call to let them know I’m going to call. This often happens during a research session where a number of names are identified and they don’t have the time to make an introduction to all of them individually.

A great way to connect with an individual that you will not have an opportunity to be introduced to is to connect with them on behalf of your board member. This can be done through mail, on the phone, or via email.

Before you reach out to a list of people on behalf of someone else, make sure that they know you are going to use their name. Ask permission to send a note or make a series of phone calls on their behalf. If you have a copy of the note, ask them to take a quick look at it. Make sure that your board member has a good idea of what you are going to say and believes it is the right message. Let your board member know that some of his or her friends may follow up with him/her and ask about the message and that he/she should be in full support of it.

Have you used this technique? I recently used this technique in inviting a number of individuals on some tours of my organization and it was rather successful. I found that it worked maybe 1 in 5 times where as a direct referral worked probably ever other time.

Solicitation Pre-Knowledge?

June 22, 2011

When you schedule an ask are you always clear that you will be asking for money?

When I’m preparing and scheduling solicitations I find that it is a bit of an art in having the conversation about why I am looking to schedule time to talk with a donor. When it is someone that I know is aware of the process I find scheduling a solicitation to be less of a challenge. Sometimes I’ve found people will try and give a preemptive gift if I let them know that I’m planning on asking them for a contribution. But, I hate to fully surprise people as well so I’ve found it valuable to have everyone on the same page.

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Using Video During A Solicitation

June 20, 2011

Video is an incredible tool and can be used to tell a compelling story in a very short time. In today’s world of technology and new media we too often look at video as the answer to all of our problems. If you need to fundraise with a compelling message, create a video. If you need to train your volunteers, create a video. Want more traffic on your website, create a video. The “create a video” mantra is all too popular today. I think it is important that we do not forget that video is a tool that we can use and really only one way of telling a story.

When using a video on a solicitation it is important to understand the reason that you are doing so. If the board member or program staff member has a really hard time telling the story or is not a super compelling person, a video is a great way to guarantee that a story and message is shared. However, in a one-on-one solicitation a video can feel impersonal and become very distracting. If you have a script and a plan, moving from talking face to face to watching a video can disrupt the flow of your presentation. Everyone is watching the individual who is speaking and the conversation starts to grow and then you stop everyone from talking and listening to the speaker to move to watch and listen to a video.

Videos tend to tell a short concise message in a short period of time. Is your audience going to be compelled by a flashy video or will they be confused and try and catch up? Is the video going to be played on their TV or on a small computer screen? Will they even be able to see or hear the video? Can the video show something that you are unable to share using pictures? Would it be possible to bring someone along with you that can tell their story directly so you wouldn’t need to show a video?

What do you think? There is a time and place for video and it can be used incredibly effectively. But there can be a time when using a video produces adverse results. Do you have any stories of when video has worked well for you during an individual solicitation? Has video ever become a distraction?

Scheduling Your Solicitations

June 13, 2011

Everyone has a different style of making a solicitation. Some people like to script out every word that could possibly be spoken and others like it to feel natural and it can feel like they are unprepared. Regardless of how comprehensive your preparation, taking time to schedule your solicitations can be very helpful. Most often when going on a solicitation your colleague is a friend of the individual you are asking for a gift. If your volunteers are anything like mine they are involved in a million different things all the time whether it is running their business or serving on other boards or just trying to find time with their families. When you script every single word it requires a level of preparation that very few people are willing to put in.

Flow during a solicitation is crucial. The team should know what’s coming next and where are they in reference to the ask for support. A schedule is much easier to memorize than a script. Scheduling is also a great tool that can be used to bring your message together and make sure that you are covering everything that you need to. Asking for a gift does not involve a bunch of random chit chat and then an ask for money. It is easy to get carried away talking about something else and forget to ask at all. People love stories and many can spend their entire time only telling stories. Some people really like to help you understand why their issue is so important to this region or this time. I have found that it is often really easy to lose track of time at the very beginning of a meeting when you are breaking the ice and getting comfortable.

If you run out of time, by the time you get to make the ask it becomes rushed and you miss out on the opportunity to talk with a donor about their concerns and answer their specific questions. The most critical part of your conversation is often how you respond after you ask for money. Do you give them time to respond? Do you have enough time to really understand and respond to their questions?

The Whole Life Offering

June 10, 2011

We are all on a quest for significance whether it is through our work, giving, or service. When I first met Eric Foley I was impressed by his vision for and understanding of philanthropy. He spoke of the development process as transformational not transactional. His newist book, The Whole Life Offering: Christianity as Philanthropy, is a book for donors, volunteers, nonprofits, and philanthropists that breathes life into giving.

Eric brings us back to the original definition of Philanthropy which comes out of the ancient greek as “a gods love towards human beings.” He talks about Philanthropy as a way of living and a way of responding to a benevolent God.

“The focus of Philanthropy is on who one is and what one is becoming as one makes the donation.”

Too often I live my life in boxes. I can be one person at work, another online, and another at home and with my friends. This book makes a bold declaration that everything is connected and how we give should flow out of who we are. If you are a Christian, this book will change your perspective on how you live out your faith and give. If you are not a Christian, this book makes some remarkable claims about how faith can and should impact your giving.

The Whole Life Offering walks the reader through a number of principles that govern how we think of philanthropy. Each of these principles is explained from seven perspectives using these Works of Piety: Searching the Scriptures, Learning, Worshiping, Praying, Self-Denial, Serving, and Giving. This book has helped me to think deeper and act more intentionally. Here are a few of my favorite quotes.

“Sharing one’s bread is something more than giving to organizations that help the poor.”

“Every act of opening one’s home is more than a response to human need.”

“As one immerses oneself in an ever-widening circle of human need, one stops giving to fund-raisers and becomes one instead.”

On this quest for significance, the ideas found in The Whole Life Offering can help to bring your work, giving, and service all together. This book is a valuable tool in guiding us to be the kind of people that live and give well.

To learn more about Eric Foley and The Whole Life Offering: Christianity as Philanthropy visit his website or read the book.

What are Your Ice Breakers?

June 6, 2011

Everyone has special tricks to get the conversation started. Some people love the excitement of meeting new people and others dread it. What kinds of ice breakers do you use to start and sustain a conversation? Here are a few that I’ve tried; I’d love to add more to the list.

  • What first connected you to this organization?
  • Do you volunteer with other organizations around town?
  • Have you lived in this area for a long time? Are you from Washington?
  • What do you do? How is business? Do you enjoy what you do?
  • Do you have any trips coming up that you are looking forward to?
  • How are things going at work, is it a busy time for you?

What questions are you known for asking? Do you use ice breakers when talking with board members and potential donors?