I remember the meeting so clearly.
The prospect was new, and he had a foundation with money to give away. I’d brought in the founder of the organization to make the pitch.
I watched the prospect as the founder began to speak. He was making a great pitch, but I wondered when the right time was to make the actual solicitation.
At a certain point, I stepped in and took the bold step of asking the prospect a question.
I asked, “How does that sound?”
Probably four of the most valuable words I’d say in my fundraising career to that point.
He responded to my question by raising an uncertainty he had about our project. We respond. From the look on his face we could tell our answer was satisfactory.
I checked in with him a second time - “Is there anything else?” - The donor responded in the negative.
And that’s when I made the solicitation.
It was a multi-year ask. The silent wait began. It seemed like an eternity. It was probably just 10 seconds.
He responded positively. He pledged a six figure donation. My largest yet.
For many, telling the donor about what you do - the pitch - is easy. The transition to ask for the donation is more difficult. Often uncomfortable.
It’s important to know when is the right time.
Too early and you can lose the donation. Too late and you can miss the opportunity.
Many people find it difficult to get from the pitch to the actual request for funds.
This is where the words “How does that sound?” make the transition easier.
These four words are the key to tell you if this donor is ready for you to ask him for a donation. The question acts as a bridge to smoothly move from pitch to solicitation.
The question subconsciously asks the donor -
- 'Where are you at in this solicitation?'
- 'Is there something that you need clarified before I make the actual ask?'
Donors, during your pitch, naturally will have questions or issues or blocks that will stop them from giving unless they are resolved. These need to be addressed before the solicitation.
Sometimes prospects’ objections are not even clear to them. You often need to dig deeper to uncover them.
And when you ask these words ‘How does that sound?’ you use a magical ability to bring to the surface any issues about your project that your donor has.
His objections are your friend since these questions will allow you to progress to make your ask.
Getting a favorable response to a solicitation is one of those sweet moments. Using these four words will make your ask that much sweeter.
B'Hatzlacha raba raba,