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Leadership Monday: Responses to “No”

If you take “No” for an answer when you’re out on a major gift solicitation, shame on you! Really.

The fact is that unless the donor says “No, not now or ever,” there are ways to turn what seem like final “No’s” into something more positive.

Here are 10 responses to common donor objections to requests for major support:

  1. If the donor says, “I’m just not sure,” you should respond with something like: “Can we discuss any of your concerns?”

  2. If the donor says, “I can’t make up my mind,” try responding with “Are there things I could clarify for you?”

  3. If the donor says, “I’m not ready to give right now,” consider this response: “When would be a good time for me to reach out to you again?”

  4. If the donor says, flat out, “No,” you say, “May I please ask why?” Find out if it’s“No” forever or just for now.

  5. If the donor says, “You’re asking me for too much,” a good response might be “As it pertains to what?”

  6. If the donor says, “I would like to help, but what you’re asking me for is more than I’m willing to commit to,” a natural response would be to ask what he or she would be willing to give at the present time.

  7. If the donor says, “I’m going to be retiring in a few years,” you could suggest the following: “I would like to show you a way to make a gift.”

  8. If the donor says, “Before I commit to any gift, I have to talk to my wife/husband,” you could respond by saying, “Would you like for me to call you next week (or month) after you’ve had the opportunity to talk to him/her?”

  9. If the donor says, “I have to make certain I’ve provided for my spouse,” an appropriate response on your part might be, “I’d like to share with you how our gift plan can provide income for your spouse and support for our organization at the same time.”

  10. If the donor says, “I won’t (or don’t) make lump sum gifts,” or “I don’t like to pledge,” you could answer that objection by saying, “ “How would you prefer to give?” or “What would be a better way for you? Do you have something else in mind?” The bottom line is not to take “No” as a “No” for ever and ever. There is almost always a way to turn a “No” into something less final that may turn into a big “Yes” later on.

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