Be Quiet!

July 29, 2014

I’ve mentioned this in previous post but I wanted to hit on the point in a little bit more depth.  After you have asked for a gift or even for a volunteer’s involvement and help their should be silence.

The next person to talk should not be you, it should be the donor.  Many people get nervous and feel like they have to fill the silence with other asks or other stories.  But if you do not give the donor the opportunity to talk you will never find out if they will or can give the gift you asked for.  And if you are not silent you will never be able to respond to the reasons they have for why they cannot give.  After you ask for a gift you need to be quiet and wait for a response.

This silence and waiting can be one of the hardest parts about asking for money.  It is worthwhile to talk with the individual who is going with you about “the ask” and mention that you both need to be silent and wait for their response.  One technique I’ve heard of before is to intentionally take a drink of water or a sip of coffee.  This forces you to stop talking and can take away some of the perceived awkwardness.

Do you have any stories of not taking a minute of silence to let the donor speak?  Or any advice as to how to remind yourself and the other solicitors to listen?


How to ASSURE a Gift

July 22, 2014

What are the steps of a successful solicitation?  Every solicitation should be made up of a few simple things a thank you, a story, an ask, a close, and follow-up.  ASSURE is an acronym (or as I call it an ASKronym) that we are currently using with our campaign when we approach a potential donor.  This is a great way to help our board members (and staff) remember each important step in the solicitation process.

A – Acknowledge – Thank the donor for their past gifts or volunteer involvement.  Make sure this is personal and specific.  Maybe mention how the money was spent or what difference it made.
S – Story – Tell a story that talks about an area of interest to your donor.  Make this story as real as possible.  If you can provide an individual story of a person that your organization served it is more meaningful.  Some donors are all about investment, if that is the case make sure your story includes the overall community impact.
S – Solicit – This one is simple and yet the most feared.  Ask the donor for exactly what you’d like them to give (or a range of amounts).  This should be very short and easy to understand.
U – Understand – Be quiet and listen to what the donor is saying (silence always follows an ask, the donor should be the next person to speak).  Do not say anything just listen to their response.
R – Review – Give a quick overview of what you’ve discussed and the outcomes.
E – End – Make sure that you have a follow-up plan in place.  A specific time that you will call or visit the donor to follow up regarding their gift (if they are still thinking about it) or to discuss the pledge sheet (or give the pledge sheet to them).

There are probably thousands of ASKronyms out there this is just one of them.  I like it because it has the key components of an ask and it’s easy to remember.  Do you have an ASKronym of your own, write a comment and share it below.

The Pre-Emptive Gift

July 15, 2014

Have you ever set out to ask a donor for a gift, you set everything up perfectly, have a great solicitation plan, and then you go to ask them for their gift and they offer you a smaller gift before you can ask? Or maybe your donor tells you I’m just going to give this don’t worry about coming out and asking me?

We want donors to be giving on their own accord but especially for our major and lead gifts (and especially during a specific campaign) we want to be able to present them the whole picture first.  Some donors do this because we take too long to ask.  But most donors do this because they want to get out of giving a larger gift.

What do you do in this situation?  How do you respond to a pre-emptive gift?  Start by acknowledging and thanking them for the gift.  Then explain to them that you came to ask for a gift of X and we wanted to talk with you about how a gift of Y can make a difference in your organization.  I hope you’ve done good research and know what you are asking them for.  If that is the case, don’t let their gift stop you from following through with what you intended to do.  But don’t ignore the gift that they just gave either.  I’ve heard stories of people that have responded with, “Thank you for the payment of the first installment of your multi-year pledge.”

Another technique that I have used with pre-emptive gifts is explain why a solicitation is important.  If you are talking to multiple board members then it is important that each board member have this experience before they talk to another board member.  If it is because you have a very specific request let them know you have a specific program that you want to talk with them about.

Have you had a donor give or try and give a pre-emptive gift?  What did you do in that situation?  How did the donor respond?

Annual Board Solicitations

July 8, 2014

Does your board do annual one-on-one solicitations? Have your board members regularly ask each other for their gifts as part of an Annual Board Campaign. This is a great thing for you to start for a number of reasons. Why is this a good idea?

  • This gets your board members in the regular practice of asking for money, which gives you more options when you are soliciting people.
  • It makes a big difference when you are asking for money to have a board member along that knows what they are doing.
  • They will often give a larger gift if they are asked for it and if the board starts to get in the regular practice of giving they will try and increase and improve upon last year’s campaign.
  • This can start a competition of giving amongst your board members that can result in more money for your organization. They will challenge other board members to give at the level they are at which is a huge encouragement.

Overall this can be a great idea for your organization but there may be a few cons. This will take a little bit more time management on your side. It will mean you have to work with your board to schedule a solicitation for each one of them. You also need to make sure that the board members that will not be able to give a large personal gift do not feel they are being looked down upon by the rest of the board. If you have never done anything like this before talk with your board chair it might be easier to start this kind of solicitation if the board thinks it is their idea.

Does your organization do anything like this? What has been their response? How successful has this kind of annual campaign worked for you? Leave a comment and let me know.

5 Factors to Consider with Merchant Services Selection

July 1, 2014

If you think your nonprofit could benefit from processing credit card payments, your next step is to set-up a merchant account. Luckily, there are many companies that provide this service. Yet, merchant services can be complicated and costly (especially without the right partner to help guide you).

We’ve provided a list of five important things to consider when selecting a merchant services provider. Hopefully the information here will help you select the right partner!

  1. Credibility: Partner with a company that has experience, ethical values, positive testimonials, and is a certified payment processor. There are many options out there, so if someone can’t prove their credibility, it’s probably best to move on. There are too many credit card scams to partner with someone that isn’t qualified.
  2. Set-up: You’ll want to select a partner that provides an easy process, such as an online application form and a customer service representative that helps walk you through this process and prepare you by providing a summary of requirements needed to apply. A good company can usually get you set up and approved in just a couple of days (unless there are extenuating circumstances).
  3. Fees: Every merchant service provider charges a fee for processing transactions, so this is not something you can avoid. However, the range of credit card processing fees can be very different. Rates also vary for different types of businesses (non-profit vs. for profit) and for debit vs. credit card transactions. In addition to transaction fees, there are monthly service fees, costs for mobile processing, late fees, fees for customer support and of course early-termination fees. Be on the lookout for all of these.
  4. Contracts: some companies require organizations to sign a contract binding them to use the service for a minimum of one year (or more), and they charge termination fees if the customer cancels early. Take note and possibly avoid these companies. Binding customers to a contract and threatening fees for leaving doesn’t seem like a great way to build a loyal customer base.
  5. Credit card Equipment: First determine what type of credit card processing you plan to do. Will you only be processing donations via your website or do you need a point of sale system or a mobile processing app for processing payments at fundraising events? Find out what type of credit card processing equipment is offered and what it costs. Some companies charge hundreds of dollars for equipment, where others offer it to clients for free.


Merchant services has become an extremely competitive field. There are lots of options from the basic service of PayPal to the custom shop that offers credit card processing for one niche business. This is a buyers’ market; so do your research and choose a merchant service provider that is right for your organization.

DoJiggy Merchant Services (DMS) offers payment processing services for nonprofit organizations. With DMS, you’ll see lower rates, better customer service, POS terminals included at no cost, seamless integration with your organization’s fundraising website, and they even include a Free Donation Website when you sign up.