Posted by Randy Hawthorne

In the world of fundraising, making the ask is one thing; sealing the deal is another. Even if you’ve grown entirely comfortable with the process of approaching people for money (and if you have, kudos to you), closing an ask can still be a challenge.

Should you end with a question or a statement?
How hard should you work to overcome an objection?
How much silence is too much? Should you talk? Should you listen?
If they say “no,” what do they really mean? No forever? No, not now? No, not that amount?

So many factors, so few concrete answers. The truth is, there’s no formula for the perfect close. Every donor is different and every situation unique. Yet it’s during the close that you need to be particularly confident about why you’re asking for money and especially in tune with your donor—if you’re not, you’ll have a difficult time getting a yes from anyone other than those who were likely to give anyway.

Before we talk about the close, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to the ask. To be clear, mentioning that your organization needs money is not an ask. Talking aboutwhy you need money is not an ask. Explaining your nonprofit’s financial status is not an ask.

Specifically defining how much you need, why you need it and then directly asking someone to give a certain portion of that amount—that, my friends, is an ask. No doubt, you’ve heard that one of the main reasons people cite for not supporting an organization is, “They didn’t ask me to.” So let’s start on the same page and define an ask as a deliberate and well thought-out request to a donor for a specific financial gift.

For the record: An ask is not about wrenching a check out of some guy’s hand. Your job is to ask, and it is his job to decide. That takes the pressure off both of you if you understand the role each of you plays in the donation process.

That said, there are ways to approach the close of your ask in order to turn the tide in your favor.

  1. Focus on emotions, not reasons. We all like to think we’re logical when it comes to making financial decisions, but if that were the case, brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Porsche would be out of business. People who can afford luxury brands don’t buy them because they need them; they buy them because it makes them feel good. Stick with me here because believe it or not, you can transfer a similar line of thinking to your donors.

    Your donors don’t inherently need to support you; giving you money doesn’t put food on their table. They do so because they want to—it makes them feel good. It satisfies an emotional need, whether it makes them feel kinder, more significant, more connected or more passionate. Emotions almost always play a major role in arbitrary financial decisions. So while you might want to use logic and reason in closing your asks (because logically your organization needs money in order to operate), focus on the emotional aspect of giving and how it will make your donor feel to partner with you financially. Emotional satisfaction is a more compelling motivator.
  2. Focus on them, not you. You need revenue. You have bills to pay. Maybe your donations are down for the year. Guess what? Your donor doesn’t care, nor should she. Declining revenues and increasing internal demands are not her problem. It’s very easy for those factors to creep into how you approach your donors for money because those are the issues weighing heavy on your mind, but they have no place in your close.

    Desperation is the mother of pushiness, and the average donor doesn’t want to feel coerced into giving. They want to be inspired. Instead of ruminating on how much you need her gift, shift your thinking to, “What’s in this for my donor?” A chance to connect with others? An opportunity to support a cause that’s personal to her? A safe, trusted place to leave a legacy gift? A tax benefit? Changing your focus from you to your donors will help you close your ask with less desperation and more relevance.

For the rest of the tips, read the full article from our friends over at Nonprofit Hub.