Bedding to Bibles (AND Charitable Gifts): Win the Confidence, Create the Desire

Published on January 25th, 2016

Brian Saber

President of Asking Matters
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I wish I could lay claim to “win the confidence, create the desire.” If this doesn’t sum up fundraising, what does?

In fact, “win the confidence, create the desire” is an old sales principle shared with me by Leo, a dear friend’s 93-year old dad. Leo was a door-to-door salesman and this was his guiding light. In his career he sold everything from bedding to bibles! Recently, I sat down to lunch with Leo, who was interested in hearing about Asking Matters. He was quick to draw important parallels between his sales work and fundraising. It got me thinking.

bibles-to-beddingWin the Confidence

It’s all about the relationship.

I’m constantly asked whether the asker needs to “tell the donor what the donor wants to hear.” Yes – that’s true. But what the donor wants to hear is you being your authentic self. When you’re authentic you’re compelling and you gain the donor’s trust. Hence, you build the relationship by winning the confidence!

It was no different for Leo, whose first job was to keep from having doors slammed in his face (makes fundraising sound easy!). How did he win the confidence of these strangers at their doorstep? Well, he didn’t start by trying to sell them. First he asked them questions about themselves and their needs, then he listened and learned.

Sounds a lot like us, right? We don’t ask until we learn something. Even if we’ve got only one shot, we start the meeting by asking questions and learning all we can. By listening and learning we win their trust and gain their confidence. Voila!

Create the Desire

Here I think Leo had it easy! I’ve always thought it would be amazing to have an actual product of monetary value to sell – something tangible to give in exchange for money.

As fundraisers we have to convince the “buyers” that the work our organizations do is something they value. We have to “create the desire” to give just as Leo had to “create the desire” to purchase. And we do that by talking about vision and impact.

In Leo’s case it was about how life would be better because of his products. Leo had to help customers visualize how beautiful their homes would be with his lovely drapes, or how spiritually enriched life would be with a new bible. It wasn’t about “need” – that would barely sell.

It’s not about “need” for us either. For us it’s about the impact a charitable gift can make and how enriched the donor will feel after making a gift. And in order to illustrate that impact, we need to talk about our organization’s vision for the future.

…and that brings us back to “win the confidence!” Who will buy our vision for the future without first having trust in us?

So simple. Thanks Leo!

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