Lori L. Jacobwith brings 25 years of professional speaking, coaching, and training to her work with social profit organizations. In addition to working as a Development Director, Executive Director, and President/CEO for various organizations Lori has provided training & coaching for thousands of organizations and their boards nationwide.
Her strategies & tools have helped organizations to collectively raise more than $150 million from individuals.
Practicing the Ask
I often deliver workshops and trainings about asking for money. One of the key components to my sessions is the dreaded “practice” ask.
What I’ve realized over the years is that people are uncomfortable about practicing for the very reasons they should be: They are not yet ready to ask for the gift. Something is causing them to feel uncomfortable about asking. And I believe, if there is a feeling of discomfort – you the asker AND the person you are going to be asking are likely not at the asking point yet.
To help get you and your team ready to ask I recommend making a list of the questions you need and want answered BEFORE you go visit the donor. Here is a short list to start you off:
7 Critical questions to answer before asking for the gift.
- Do you know they are ready? If not, what do you need to do to get THEM ready?
- Specifically what will be asked for?
- Does the donor have a clear understanding of the human impact of the gift you are inviting them to make?
- What concerns might the donor have about saying “yes” to your request?
- Why would the donor say “yes”?
- Who will be asking?
- Where will the ask take place?
Once you have your list of questions filled out and collected answers and you are pretty certain they are ready to say yes, then it’s time to practice all the steps in the ask conversation with someone on your team. When we are anxious we are far less flexible. We can not listen and adapt as quickly. So PREPARE and do a role play practice to take some of the anxiety away.
If possible I recommend using the camcorder on your phone or a Flip cameras to record yourself doing the practice ask. Videotaping is a really great way to see what habits you have that you may want to change.
A few reminders for you during the conversation with the donor:
- Spend time listening to THEM.
- If you are going to ask for a specific dollar amount be confident and clear about it. Don’t just say the number all at once, all in a rush as you begin talking to the donor.
- Be sure to convey the impact of what a gift of that specific size will do. In fact, using a sentence like: “I’m here today to explain the impact of a gift of _______[fill in the blank] can work nicely.
- Talk about the impact of your work more than the features of your programs. Donors are not as interested in the fact that you have 12 volunteers working in the crisis phone center each day. What they DO want to know is how many lives are changed or saved because of the training those 12 volunteers have. Talking about the impact and the return on investment for your work is key to providing a powerful presentation.
- Deepen your sharing of the human impact by telling a story or two about your work. Humanizing the work you do can turn a passive listener into an excited, willing funder. Telling how little Sonia, age 4, received medical care quickly for her broken arm so her mom only had to take a half day off work is much more powerful than saying “our clinic helps families deal with medical emergencies.”
The real message in all of this is: Be comfortable with what you have to say and the best way to be comfortable is to practice. Ask a colleague or family member to listen to your “pitch” and give you honest feedback. Have them tell you the truth about whether or not their minds wandered or if you were compelling.
To learn more about Lori visit www.lorijacobwith.com
Follow Lori on Twitter: LJacobwith or visit her Facebook page: LJacobwith
For more information on Asking, take a look at Andrea’s recorded training: Motivate to Ask: 8 Ways to Create a Culture of Asking.
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