Tag Archives: Solicitor Training

How to Ask Someone to Donate $1,000,000

Rejection Proof

A few years ago I have become aware of a theory called rejection therapy. The idea is that to overcome the fear of rejection you ask for seemingly preposterous things and eventually, you will be immune to the rejection and focused on how to turn the “no” into a “yes.” But can you use this theory if the idea is not preposterous but just scary? What if you want to ask someone to go on date or, since this is a fundraising and development blog, want to ask someone to donate $1,000,000 to your capital campaign? Can you make these asks feel less like you are asking for them to climb a ladder and get you the moon?

A Bit of Backstory

It all started with a TEDx talk given by Jia Jiang. I became a bit obsessed with his idea of rejection therapy that was only fueled when I saw him speak at a conference. He turned around his fear of rejection by spending 100 days asking for things that seemed just beyond his reach. Not surprisingly, he was rejected when he asked for a burger-refill to go with his drink refill and when he asked a stranger to borrow $100. But he was shocked when the flight attendant let him make the welcome announcement (it was illegal for him to give the safety announcement as all passengers need to be in their seats), Krispy Kreme made a complicated, customized donut for him, and a police officer let him drive his car – lights and all.

When I heard his story I realized this is exactly what we talk to our clients about.

Rejection Therapy in Fundraising

If you go out and ask each and every one of your nonprofit’s prospects to donate $1,000,000 and you would probably not get a single positive response. If there is no way for them to say yes (finances won’t allow it), you will not be learning about rejection therapy, you will simply get used to being rejected. By the time you reach the person(s) who could give $1,000,000, you would be asking with the assumption that you will get rejected. The “therapy” implies that you will grow from the experience not just ask for the same thing from different people in the same way.

What you can learn from Mr. Jiang, and other experienced solicitors, is that the right ask, to the right person, in the right way, with the ability to see the possibilities will help you find success.

Consider a campaign in which you have 350 rated individuals/couples. There are a few $1,000,000 and $500,000 prospects included, but the majority range from $5,000 to $250,000. You work with a committee to consider the ratings and determine appropriate asks for each. Then, you know that you have the right ask to the right person. You are not asking a $5,000 donor for $500,000 or asking a Krispy Kreme employee to let you give a flight announcement.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Practice getting rejected within the safe confines of your development committee. Everyone gets a little nervous when asking for a meaningful donation and that is what keeps it exciting for some and terrifying for others. Practicing within your committee will help you overcome some of the fear and help you frame what is the right way to ask for the donation. It will help you consider how you would ask someone differently if he or she is close to retirement or has children who are about to start college. And how you would answer the inevitable questions that will arise. Getting rejected by your fellow committee members –and learning what worked or didn’t work–will help you ask differently the next time.

The list of possible reasons someone may say “no” when you ask them to donate may be long, but the ability to see the possibilities will help you realize that many times a “no” is a, “not now,” “I have to think about it,” or “wow, I couldn’t do that, could I?” Maybe the ask is too high or your information about their ability to give was wrong, but that is not a rejection of you. That is a rejection of the information and you can move past that to find the amount that will help the donor feel good about their gift. Consider how you can make this a “yes,” now or in a future meeting. Is it a lower amount? Is it a family gift? Is it a gift pledged over 5 years? A portion as a legacy gift? If you can see the possibilities, you can help the donor see the path forward.

By the time you ask that next prospect to donate $1,000,000, you will start the same way you would for $5,000. Without the fear of rejection.

Want to learn more about this theory? Watch the webinar by clicking here

Want to read more about how you can improve your capital campaign success?

Capital Campaign Success – Should You Measure Dollars or Donors?

Keeping Optimistic During a Capital Campaign

The Timing of a Capital Campaign

Would You Rather Solicit A Major Gift Over Zoom or With a Live Chicken

Would You Rather Solicit A Major Gift Over Zoom or With a Live Chicken

What has changed for you during the pandemic? Your employment? Or at least the way you work? Your family life? Or the time you spend with your family? Your eating? Or where you eat most of your meals? The essentials of life, food, family, work, and so much more look very different than they did months ago. For most of us, we didn’t have a choice, we adapted to the curve in the road.

Fundraising and solicitations also need to adapt. And I am here to tell you that it can work.

You can solicit a major gift over Zoom

I would take a sizable bet that if, even six months ago, I had suggested you solicit a major gift over Zoom you would have had a very strong reaction. Probably you would have laughed, then deleted my email, then unsubscribed from my blog. It would have been like suggesting you bring a live chicken to your donor meetings. I guess it could be done, but it would only reduce your chances of success and eliminate donor confidence.    

Back to July 2020 and I am here to say Zoom solicitations can be done successfully.

Our clients who have continued to work on their capital campaigns during the pandemic are finding that process looks different than expected, but the outcome can be the same. Or even better than anticipated.

Organizations who have taken time over the past few months to organize and plan their campaign in the current climate will find that things have normalized to a point where donors are ready to talk. These organizations have checked in and connected with donors, members and volunteers. They probably utilized their volunteers to keep them engaged and deepen the relationships. And, similar to other types of stewardship, these “touches” have kept prospects engaged, primed, and ready to be asked for a donation.

At MJA, the pandemic has changed our business too

We do not visit facilities or attend meetings in person. We do continue to teach volunteers and professionals how to make a game plan for each prospect, how to get the appointment, and, of course, how to solicit. We make sure the solicitor has the appropriate documents, that the staff and volunteers understand each step of the follow up and acknowledgement process, and we have sat in as a box, and participant, on Zoom solicitations. And while we were all a bit nervous to start, it works.

Donors still feel passionately about organizations, particularly those they have previously supported. Some donors have had to change their financial plans due to COVID-19-related issues, but many don’t. There is significant philanthropic capacity looking for meaningful opportunities.  And if you have been stewarding those who have it, they will still be ready to give if you make the compelling case you have always needed to make:

  • Why give?
  • Why to this organization?
  • Why to this organization right now?

So, it may feel strange, like holding a bird, to solicit a major gift over Zoom but it’s time to adapt and try new things. Unless you are one of the many people who decided to adopt chickens during the pandemic. And then, you might be able to hold your chicken while on a zoom call and still be successful. Life certainly has changed.  

If you would like to learn from our experience so you can plan and execute your capital campaign or annual fund major gifts program, please click here to schedule a free consultation.

How Many Donors Does Your Nonprofit Need? Look at Your Solicitor Pool

Solicitor Pool

If you are considering how many solicitors you need, you probably don’t have enough. You are probably relying on the Executive Director, a development staff member or two, and/or a few key board members. And, maybe that has worked for the past few years – Executive Directors can be incredibly effective fundraisers. But you may be only one resignation away from a dramatic decline. It is time to increase your solicitor pool.

In the same way you don’t want to be over-reliant on a few major donors, you don’t want to put all of your solicitations in too few hands.

How do you expand your solicitor pool?

  1. Look at your staff. Who would you trust to represent you in a meeting? Not sure if Jennifer is ready? Bring her along as a second solicitor during a few meetings with longtime donors. Make it clear, ahead of time, the role she will play and where she can strategically add to the conversation. Please don’t have her sitting and observing the whole time – that will not test her skills, it make everyone feel uncomfortable, and leave the donor(s) wondering why Jennifer was there at all.
  2. Ask your board members if they will help. Ask them one-on-one, not in a group setting. Don’t assume they will say no. And encourage people to get involved at any level that will be helpful to you.
    1. Some people might be willing to solicit, if trained.
    2. Others might be willing to help you set up appointments (often time consuming for the solicitor) and join in if someone else will make the ask. Overtime, that might change, but for the moment you will have someone helping you with the initial, time-consuming piece of an ask.
    3. Another few might be willing to ask at a small group event. Encourage your board to get involved with fundraising any way they choose.
  3. Invite committee members to participate. Obviously, the first place to start is the development committee. But, someone who understands the finances might be willing to help with a fact driven ask. And a person who is focused on funding for a particular program might be willing to ask individuals to support it. *
  4. Talk to your donors. Longtime supporters might be willing to ask others to join them with their own gift – especially if they already know them. Those cocktail party conversations might provide more connections and donations than you expected.

*Only encourage funding for a program that is an organizational priority. Creating a program because you received funding is a slippery slope that often leaves you in debt. Get in touch if you want to learn more about how I learned this the hard way.

Want to read more about increasing your donor base?

Solicitor Training Techniques

Solicitor Training TechniquesIn every nonprofit that we council for fundraising and development, we provide tips, techniques, and training on how to ask for money.  Whether we are talking to staff, board or committee members, we know there is a lot of fear around the ask.  We also know that each and every person can overcome that fear with a little solicitor training.

Here are seven solicitor training techniques to help you with your next solicitation:

    1. It may seem easy, but don’t discount that your state of mind–whether positive or negative–will fill the room and affect the outcome of your solicitation.
    2. Take a partner with you. Whether you are close with the prospect or just meeting for the first time, a two-person approach will set the scene that it is not just a social visit, but a meeting about the nonprofit to gather feedback from the prospect and solicit his or her support. It will create a set of expectations for everyone involved. Friends can catch up at another time when you don’t have a specific agenda.
    3. Take a notepad with you. It won’t be rude if you take notes. Instead, it will show that you care about what they say and you want to be able to share their thoughts with the organization. Quick note: I used to take notes on my IPad at meetings but I found that people weren’t sure if I was taking notes or scanning Facebook. This is a place where pen and paper should rule.
    4. It is the most valuable skill that you will use in your meeting. Don’t think for a minute that what you say will be more important than what the prospect says.  Your job is to acknowledge their concerns and tailor the conversation to the prospect’s point of view. And you can do that, if you are really listening.
    5. Know that you are as prepared as you can be. That means you know the donor’s:
      • Giving history (to your organization and other nonprofits)
      • Interests in your nonprofit (if they have given any indication in the past)
      • Connections and points of entry to the nonprofit
      • What you are going to ask them for
      • How you will handle the most common objections that you can expect to hear
      • What you will say and do if you don’t know how to address their concerns
      • When and how you will follow up with them
    6. Remember that you are not asking for a personal favor and the donation is for a nonprofit in which both you and the prospect believe. You should not be afraid or embarrassed to ask.  You will not personally benefit from the gift, which means, if the person says no, they are not saying no to you. They are saying no to this gift at this time to this organization.  Of course, if the person says, “yes,” you should both celebrate helping the nonprofit.
    7. Plan on thanking them with a personal note. The organization should have its own processes, but a handwritten note from you will go a long way towards building a stronger relationship between you and the prospect and the prospect and the organization.

    Listen with full concentration. Ask with confidence. Know you did all you could do.

    And if you are still concerned about asking, contact me to arrange for personalized solicitor training techniques that you can start to apply today.

The Tradeoff of Time vs Money in Fundraising – 7 Considerations

Tradeoff of Time vs. Money in Fundraising We all know the adage, time is money. Nonprofits often think volunteer time is better to spend than precious dollars. But is it really?

And in the time of the pandemic, is there more time or less?

The Tradeoff of Time vs Money in Fundraising

Let’s say that you don’t want to spend money on a fundraising consultant for a capital campaign.  You believe you can do it on your own – you have a dedicated group willing to put in the work.

Can you get the same fundraising results without investing the money in a nonprofit consultant like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates? No, time is, literally, money lost. Money lost by not knowing:

  1. How much to ask for. Most clients underestimate the ask amounts of all but the very highest and lowest donors.
  1. How to ask. We train solicitors to ask for seemingly outrageous donations, to overcome any objections to the campaign during a solicitation, and how to be persistent without being pushy during each step of the process. For instance, an untrained ear will hear “no,” and walk away. We teach solicitors to listen to hear if they are really saying “I need more information” or “not yet.”
  1. Marketing materials are a huge distraction. The weeks you spend holding off fundraising while crafting the perfect marketing materials will not improve your outcome. Marketing is within many capital campaign committee members’ comfort zones so it is not surprising that it is deemed essential before you can do anything else.  Truth: Many a failed campaign have had beautiful pieces. When we are called in to help with a stalled or unsuccessful campaign, we are almost always shown interesting, well produced marketing materials. Instead, we help you create a strong case for giving to your worthy organization – in a nice piece that an outside designer can work on while you are moving through your fundraising plan.
  1. How to create a fundraising plan with action items.  You need a campaign fundraising plan that leads you through your prospects in a methodical way. Who do you approach first? Who should be in your second, third or fourth round of solicitations? We help you avoid a scattered approach and focus on those who can make an impactful gift to the campaign.
  1. Who to ask.  Most clients have hidden gems in their donor database. Sometimes they will be low level, long-term donors with high capacity. Other times they will be people giving at a mid-level range that could easily be a major donor. We help you find the best prospects. And, help you determine when is the best time to ask them for a gift to your capital campaign.
  1. The potential for the overall goal.  What would you do if we could discover that you could raise $2,500,000 over your current goal? Our feasibility studies help predict accurate, achievable goals. Potentially, a goal you would not even consider without advice from someone like us.
  1. It just takes longer without counsel.  There is a lot to learn on the internet. In fact, MJA has 118 articles, before this one, that reference a capital campaign. It takes a lot of time to understand best practices, fundraising techniques and capital campaign strategies.  Time that could be spent raising money instead of watching construction costs rise.

If you still think the tradeoff of time vs money in fundraising without counsel is worth it, here is a link to the 118 other articles on capital campaigns. No judgements – this is why we write them.

If you would like to speak with us about your upcoming (or stalled) capital campaign, email me and we can start the process today.

Solicitor Slowdown? 10 Tips to Motivate Volunteers to Continue Soliciting During a Capital Campaign

Motivate volunteers quoteAs a nonprofit consultant, I have found that even the most devoted board and development committee members have periods of time where they slow down and/or stop making calls and setting up appointments. How do you reset their enthusiasm and motivate volunteers to start solicitations again?

  1. Bring in new blood. Capital campaigns take time. Often two to three years, and that can be exhausting. Whether great progress continues or there has been a slowdown, changes in the life of the volunteers and volunteer fatigue can set in.  Sometimes, all it takes is the expansion of the development committee to bring back the enthusiasm.
  2. Pair solicitors. It is hard to coordinate the schedules of two solicitors and a prospect, but the efforts will be rewarded. It creates accountability between the solicitors and should increase the likeliness of setting up appointments.
  3. Help the committee feel like a team. You can motivate volunteers by creating a camaraderie within the committee. With everyone working together towards the same goal you will create a deeper connection that will last for many years to come.
  4. Have the committee help each other. As nonprofit consultants, we encourage our clients’ meetings to begin with time to share individual experiences so that the rest of the committee can learn. Whether an interaction went surprisingly well or a solicitor received a lot of attitude, the committee can brainstorm next steps, get excited, and/or commiserate with each other.
  5. Create group benchmarks. You have your committee working as a team, create short and long-term goals that reflect that.  How many phone calls –in total– should you aim for in the next week?  How many meetings do you want scheduled in the next week?  Everyone should feel responsible for the effort.
  6. Create individual benchmarks. On the flip side, sometimes it is easy to hide behind the group effort.  Create goals for each campaign development committee member and make the goals public. This is not to shame, but to motivate volunteers.
  7. Recognize achievements. Whether you do this on an individual basis or as a group, continue to remind everyone how far they have come – even if there is still a long way to go.
  8. Move the time of your development committee meeting. The time worked when you first started, but “Jeff” took a new job, “Claire” extended her hours on Tuesdays and school ended so childcare issues have changed. A new time can bring different people to the meetings and a new energy.
  9. Consider the leadership. Is the leadership still excited about the project?  Are they still dedicating the same amount of time and energy? Whether you have chosen your committee heads by their capacity to give, their capacity to bring in donations, or their leadership skills, it may be time to add a third or even fourth committee co-chair to the mix.
  10. Make sure everyone leads by example. No nonprofit can afford to have people talking about what others should do than doing it themselves.  Remember, the one of the characteristics of great leaders is that  they do what they say they are going to do.

If you would like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates to help you motivate your volunteers and bring energy to your capital campaign, call us today at 800.361.8689

Want to read more?

Why He Joined This Board (AKA The Importance of Time, Talent, and Treasure)

Board Leadership – A Burden or a Blessing?

A Stronger Fundraising and Development Committee (What would help your nonprofit raise more money this year?)




Be Thankful for the Gift and Move On

Be Thankful for the Gift and Move On

While at the gym the other day I overheard a woman ask a teenager on the treadmill next to her if she had an extra hairband, mentioning that she had left hers at home.  They didn’t know each other but the teenager had one around her wrist that she offered up.  The woman took it, thanked her, and then said, “are you sure?”

This made no sense to me:

  1. Why would you ask if someone was sure AFTER they offered up the item?
  2. Teenagers do not give up what they do not want to give up. Ask any parent who tries to get them to put down a cell phone.

But, it did remind me of the type of conversations I hear in solicitations and solicitation trainings.  Let me remind you of two facts:

  1. People will not give you money that they do not want to give.
  2. Once they offer a gift be thankful for the gift and move on. Do not question their gift or their intentions (you can question payment options like whether it is a pledge vs gift, timing and recognition options).

Solicitors are often worried that someone will give a gift out of guilt or obligation, if that is the reason they are giving, it will be a low-level gift. This is not where their passion lies or they do not think this nonprofit is a good investment. Be thankful for the gift and move on.

In other words, do not project your insecurities onto the donor. Instead, be positive.  Share how amazing you felt when you heard your gift was helping give access to more teen programming or helping more families get food this month.  Share why you prioritize this nonprofit over the three others you also support, and why you are willing to go outside your comfort zone to solicit gifts.  That will help everyone leave the solicitation feeling good.  And that is something you can both be thankful for.

If you’re curious about how to “move on,” consider the various ways you will acknowledge the donor – click here for some 16 ideas.

Knowing How to Listen Will Improve Fundraising and Your Family Dinners

Listen to Improve FundraisingNo doubt, people have had trouble listening for thousands of years.  Sure, while modern technology makes it easy to multi-task (and thereby decrease focus on the primary task at hand), I have a feeling the cave people were as easily distracted by a future hunt as you are by your wondering what you will make for dinner tonight or what emails came in since you started reading this.  With the historical as well as current struggle in mind, here are three core elements to effective listening and how it can improve fundraising:

  • Hear what the person is saying
  • Stay Focused
  • Help the Donor

1 – Hear What The Person Is Saying.

  • Put aside your own agenda, your pre-conceived notions about the person, your assumptions about how they will respond and your own personal biases.
  • Watch for nonverbal clues about what the person is truly saying.
  • Ask questions to clarify and ensure an accurate translation.
  • Confirm what you are hearing by briefly summarizing what you heard

2 – Stay Focused. Easier said than done. It means that when you walk into a meeting you are only thinking about this particular conversation and the person in front of you. Here are a few tips:

  • Release all of your other thoughts.
  • Jot down any notes about subjects that are distracting so you won’t worry about losing your train of thought or re-gaining your thread of the conversation later.
  • Don’t let yourself daydream.  The update will come in or it won’t.
  • Remember that if you can’t focus on raising money, the donor has no incentive to stay focused on donating money.

3 – Help the Donor.  This does not mean putting words or ideas into the person’s mouth.  Instead:

  • Avoid distracting comments.
    • Do not interrupt.
    • Do not change the subject unless you intend to for a reason.
    • Do not finish a donor’s sentence.
  • Avoid distracting actions.
    • Do not fidget.
    • Do not slump.
    • Do not nod after each sentence.
  • Offer words of advice or help only when the donor is interrupted by another source or has lost their train of thought.
  • Maintain eye contact.

This list of suggestions is can be helpful in many aspects of our life (in addition to how it can improve fundraising.) Try using this as a guide before a family dinner and see if it changes the conversation.

Listening is something that we all think we know how to do but few of us truly do well.   Succeed and you will see the rewards.

** This article was originally published in September 2010 and updated and republished in March 2017.




Overcoming the Anxieties of Asking for a Donation

Fear of asking for a donationI have been a solicitor of major gifts for more than forty years. Moreover, I have trained both volunteers and professionals around the country in the art of asking for a donation, or what my friend and mentor, Jerry Panas, calls “truly outrageous, consequential gifts.”

One of the techniques that I employ at the very beginning of every session is to ask each participant to write down on a blank piece of paper an answer to the following question. “Visualize yourself face to face with a major gift prospect. You have just asked that person to consider a very substantial gift to your organization. As you sit in the ensuing silence, what is your single greatest fear?”

Once my “students” have written down their answers, I ask them to crumple up the piece of paper and throw it away. Actually, I walk around with a waste paper basket and collect their freshly discarded anxieties. I have catalogued these trepidations for a long time. The results of my informal research–and my prescriptions for overcoming these anxieties of asking have yielded the following curious results. With more than a thousand participants, I identified twenty-one basic responses.

People were concerned about not knowing whom to ask and when finally in the person’s presence, not knowing enough about the prospect. In major gifts’ work, as in all fundraising, it is essential to know your donor. Indeed, the “whom to ask” question comes from someone who does not understand that your next major donor is most likely someone who has been supporting you regularly for sometime already.

Some worried about wasting their time. Better they should be concerned about wasting the prospective donor’s time. Others were worried that they might not be the right person or that asking someone for money would somehow affect their personal relationship or worse, will turn the prospect off so that they will want nothing to do with the organization ever again. It is always possible that you are not the right person to do the solicitation. In fact, matching the prospect with the right solicitor or, better still, soliciting team, is one of the critical preliminary steps to any solicitation. But, if you are the “right” person (which often means you are the only person who will do the ask), then, be not afraid.

Truly, people do not like to talk about money–particularly their own–and especially giving it away. Rather, get them to share your dream and make it their own. Give the prospect the sense that they can make a difference. Then you are not “taking” anything from them. You are “giving” them one of the great opportunities of their lives. Never discount, the great joy of giving.

Then, there is the category of concern that comes under the heading of “fear of failure.” This might as easily be characterized as a fear of success. One person stated, “I am afraid that the donor will ask a question that I cannot answer.” Others said they feared that they would “blow the opportunity,” or that they would make a mistake when asking for a donation. Another was afraid that they would be nervous or that they might panic.

You should not fear “objections” that the donor might raise. If you really want to be afraid of something, fear silence. The donor who is objecting to something–and-asking a question is a form of objection–is saying, “tell me more. I am not convinced yet. I want more information than you have provided.” Learn to love objections. Your prospect is giving you a golden opportunity to make your case in direct response to something that interests them. First, seek clarification from your prospect so you understand the question. Second, acknowledge that you have heard what they have said. Third, resume making the case in the language the prospect can best understand. Then, you will have no reason to be nervous or panic. You cannot blow the presentation when you are answering your prospect’s question. As long as you are listening you cannot make a mistake.

The last and most prevalent fear of any solicitor–professional or volunteer–is the fear of rejection. It comes in many forms. The hard part is to understand that the rejection is never personal. Also, if you are gently persistent you can generally overcome the “no.” In the context of a fundraising solicitation, “no” rarely means “no, not ever,” but rather, “no, not yet.” Statistics show that 92% of all solicitors give up after they have heard any where from one to four objections or “no’s.” 73% of all donors offer five objections or more. Be among the eight per cent of the “askers” who are still asking the three quarters of all donors who want to give, but need you to help them share the dream. That is the art of soliciting.

Considering a campaign? You may want to read

The Nonprofit Leaders Guide to a Capital Campaign Vol. 1 of 12

Be Thankful for the Gift and Move On

Note: this post was originally published in 2005


Assertiveness in the Nonprofit Setting

fullsizeoutput_5970My family recently got a puppy. Training her, as we have been told, is actually an exercise in training the people in the family. Interestingly, one of my daughters has no assertiveness when she is around the dog (that is not true of her in other situations). She says “come” in a soft sweet tone hoping the dog will respond to her being nice. Nonprofit leaders, often, try the same approach. And they both have the same effect.

People will listen and do what is asked if they feel like it in the moment.

Whether you are trying to keep a board meeting on track or asking someone for a donation, assertiveness will often be the key to success. Please note that I am not encouraging aggressive behavior, just assertiveness.

How would assertiveness training work in a nonprofit setting?

People, and dogs, respond to the person who is in charge. It is hard to find the balance between being nice and being firm (some would say it is even harder for a female), but for the sake of a nonprofit boards’ efficacy, it is worth the effort.

Not sure you can do it? Imagine someone who you consider assertive whom you would like to emulate. Then, when you know you have to step up your game, consider what they would say in the situation.

Why does this matter?

People step off nonprofit boards when they feel that their time is being wasted. Do a quick vote at your next meeting by a show of hands. Ask which is more important – to end on-time or to have every member have a chance to state their opinion on each and every topic. Most people will choose the former, until they are told they cannot speak on a topic in the moment. An assertive leader will offer to continue the conversation at an alternate time whether that is on a conference call, at a breakout meeting before the next meeting or on a new date and time.

Asking for donations

For many, the idea of asking a peer for money is outside their comfort zone. Assertiveness will give you the confidence to ask directly. One way to go about this is to say, “would you consider joining me in making a meaningful contribution to Organization ABC. We would like you to consider a gift of $XX,XXX.” Then, the trick is to remain silent, waiting for a response. That silence is actually an assertive skill that is hard to master. You are controlling the situation by requiring a response from the prospect. Assertiveness does not include statements like, “I know this is a lot to ask for,” “That number is just a suggestion,” or “or whatever you think is a nice gift.”

Yes, solicitors unintentionally provide prospects with excuses not to give or give less.

The good news is that assertiveness can be learned and the application of it is easy. Start training yourself and your committee and you will see the results. But, remember that you have to stay strong in tough situations, because that is exactly when assertiveness is needed most.