Don’t Assume… Ask!

by Brian Saber

How many times have you been in meetings with circular discussions about whether it’s time to ask a prospect for a gift?

  • Fundraiser #1: I don’t think Barb and Jerry will want to meet because…
  • Fundraiser #2: But Rachel said she ran into Barb at the club and they had a nice discussion…
  • Fundraiser #3: They’ve got three kids in private school so they’re spending a lot now…
  • Fundraiser #1: Right, and that means that they have capacity, so we should ask…
  • Fundraiser #2: I wouldn’t want to turn them off since they have such great capacity and are friends with Diane and Stuart…
  • Fundraiser #3: They shouldn’t be upset with us because…

Stop Assuming! You will never come up with the perfect answer because there’s no way to know the perfect answer without asking the question:

  • dont-assume-blog“Barb and Jerry, may we come visit with you to talk about a gift to the Spokane Community Center? Of course we know you’ve got a couple of kids in school and that’s a big load, but we know you’ve always been generous to the Center and your support would help us make a huge impact here. While we’re together we can also update you on all the wonderful expanded programs we have in place for children and teens.”

Figuring out whether a prospect will meet is only one of the many questions we can debate forever or simply ask our prospect:

  • What interests you most about Spokane Community Center?
  • How do you decide which charities to support? What’s most important to you?
  • How often would you like to hear from us?
  • Is there something about our Center, or the field in general, that you’ve always wanted to know?
  • Do you consider multiple gifts to an organization? If we had special projects or special events, would you consider supporting those as well?
  • May we come visit with you every year as we’ve done today? Would you like us to visit more often?

Why do you hesitate at all to ask these questions? Do you feel like you’re prying? Or are you concerned about upsetting someone with a question?

If so, ask yourself, would any of these questions upset you? Would you, as a prospect, be offended by these questions? Or would you be pleased that the organization wants to get to know you?  I have always found – and that’s after thousands of asks! – that if asked graciously and respectfully, almost any question is within bounds.

Let’s not forget, most people enjoy being asked about themselves. It enables them to feel heard and to feel important.  We should never forget that our donors want a relationship with their charities as much as we want relationships with them. They might not know what that relationship should look like, but people don’t want to give away money, they want to make an impact in the world. The deeper their relationship with an organization, the more they’ll come to understand the impact they’re making.

So, the next time you are having a circular discussion about a prospect don’t assume… ask! You’ll be amazed at what you can learn.

Here’s to finding your voice and funding your passion.





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