You are in control of the flow of the conversation. So, it’s your obligation to be clear about where your visit is headed. Frame the close in the visit right from the start. Begin with something like this, “I am so grateful for your time to visit with me today. We are excited to connect with others who have a passion to help us _________________________ (rescue babies, build houses, shelter puppies… whatever you do). What I’d like to do is get to know you better, share with you some of our most pressing priorities and, if it’s ok with you, see how you can get help.”
That one statement allows you to do three really important things:
- CONNECT: Use good questions to really get to know them. Listen and connect. Share some of your personal story. Fundraising is not a transaction at an ATM. You must first forge a human connection. You are real human beings having a real conversation.
- CLARIFY: As you talk about your priorities, connect them to your prospect’s interests. Engage with them in a conversation around the work your non-profit is doing. Pause to ask questions. One of the best questions to ask is, “Does that make sense?” This is your chance to clarify — confusion will kill your ask
- CLOSE: You have already established that you will ask them to help. Some fundraisers do not how to get to the close because they aren’t sure if they have permission to ask. From the beginning of the conversation, both you and the prospect know the ask is coming.
Are you prepared to answer this question, “I love what you do… it makes sense… HOW CAN I HELP?”
Last week I met with a local contractor. The subject of sales came up in the conversation. “You really need to be ready to put a number on the table with your clients,” I said. His eyes lit up and he said, “That’s so true! My trouble is just asking for the sale.” He lost a lot of business because he decided to avoid the close. He was hoping they would call back for a bid… they rarely did.
A lot of fundraisers will do the same thing. Many ask to send a proposal, or get back to the prospect in a couple of days with a number. Mr. or Mrs. Prospect usually loses interest. Be ready to make a specific ask about your real needs.
It’s true in construction, and it’s true in fundraising. You have to understand what your organizations needs, so that your can make an ask… on the spot. Your ask is justifiable because it’s based on your needs. You can say something like, “Because our vision and plan makes sense to you, would you like to sponsor a student this year for $3000?”
Bonus Closing Tip: If your biggest need is “general” funding, create a giving membership or club so that you always have a specific number in mind when closing. Make an ask like this, “Thanks for asking to help! We established the Cornerstone/Builders/Founders/Whatever Society to help fund, on an annual basis, all the priorities we discussed today. You can become a member, for a minimum commitment of $3000 to not only fund our priorities, but to also play a huge role in providing the support needed to save/transform/rescue the people/places/puppies we serve. Would you consider becoming a member today?”
Make your ask specific and simple. Tie it to a real need. Just ask.
Need more help closing? Let’s start a conversation today about your needs. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE 20 minute consultation. We’ll give you at least one good suggestion you can use today to make a better ask with your prospects.