Change your words. Change your world.

Exactly When to Stop Talking in the Fundraising Asking Conversation

When we think about nonprofit fundraising, we tend to focus on words. On exactly what to say. Exactly when to say it. And exactly how to time the words.

But arguably, the most important part of the asking conversation is silence.

Knowing When to Stop Speaking

In an asking conversation, you get to a point where you’re asking for a specific dollar amount. You and the prospect have visited. You’ve heard her values and her commitments. So you, because of what she’s said, you ask her to give a specific dollar amount to the nonprofit.

And she is silent.

Silence tends to make us feel uncomfortable. Since our assumption is that she must be feeling uncomfortable too, our urge is to fill the silence with more words.

But after you clearly ask a donor prospect for a specific dollar amount, stop talking!

Sales trainings will say things like, “He who speaks first loses.” It’s not that way in nonprofit fundraising. We’re not talking about winners and losers.

In nonprofit fundraising, this silence is about honoring the donor. We’ve just asked her to do something, to take an action she presumably hasn’t taken before.

So our silence honors her. It allows her to hear what was said, process what was asked, and make an answer. Anything you say while she’s processing will be adding confusion into the process.

So keep the ask clear by keeping your mouth shut.

She Who Asks the Questions Controls the Conversation

You’ve just asked a question. And you’ll have more questions to ask as you continue the conversation. You just don’t know what questions to ask yet. The only way you’ll know, is when she speaks.

So as you go about preparing for your fundraising ask, in addition to practicing your words, be sure to practice your silence. Because your silence after a clear ask will help you raise even more money than just asking alone.

Marc Pitman

Marc Pitman

Marc Pitman is a leadership expert and fundraising coach. He can teach you to lead teams more effectively with less stress.

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