I can’t believe it. 25 years in the fundraising business and often told I’m the best “asker” people know, yet all the old fears are still there.
My friend Mary asked me to help her hand out flyers and ask people to sign a petition at the Maplewood, New Jersey train station this morning (to ask Governor Christie to reinstate work on the second transit tunnel between NJ and NYC). I hate this stuff. Why? Well, I’m terribly shy with people I don’t know – can’t stand interacting with people until I’m properly introduced by a third party. Once the introduction is made I’m fine, but until that point it is hugely uncomfortable. And of course that gets back to the fear of rejection.
So here I was in front of the station. I knew the crowd was mostly in our corner since these were commuters who were tired of endlessly delayed trains, and today the trains happened to be 30 minutes late!
The first part was easy – giving people the flyer and saying “help us restart work on the second tunnel” or some variation of that. I knew almost everyone would take the flyer so there was very little chance of rejection — taking the flyer isn’t asking for much and in a small town like ours there’s a friendliness and familiarity that helps in these situations.
But I didn’t ask even 1 in 20 to sign the petition. Of those I did ask, a number said yes, but I was just too mortified to ask. I couldn’t bear the thought of the rejection — and asking people I didn’t even know seemed so intrusive for someone as shy as I am in those circumstances.
I was reminded of the Asking Matters™ Asking Styles — I’m a Kindred Spirit (introverted and intuitive) — and how that shyness translates into particular fundraising habits.
I was reminded of the Asking Matters™ Asking Styles — I’m a Kindred Spirit (introverted and intuitive) — and how that shyness translates into particular fundraising habits. For me that means only soliciting people I know — no cold calls. That’s probably why I enjoy major gifts so much — the cultivating of those donors allows me to get to know them and to develop a strong sense of their likelihood of making a gift. So by the time I ask for a gift, I almost always get one.
Some Kindred Spirits can’t ask those they know because the rejection is more personal, but that’s where my intuitive nature probably comes in to play. Intuitively I have a great sense of whether someone I know will make a gift or not — the only question left is whether they’ll agree to the level of giving I am proposing. So it is easy to solicit those I know.
So it was reinforced once again — we are what we are — and if we want to be successful fundraisers, we need to understand our personalities and use those to our best advantage to help the organizations we care so deeply about!
Read Tom Wolf’s pieceabout the Five Anxiety Moments and how to deal with them.
Take a look at Asking Matters’ piece Dealing with Anxiety.
For more from Asking Matters co-founder Brian Saber – read his blog post on Soliciting People in Their Own Homes.