Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fundraiser Tips: Don't Say You're Sorry

There are legitimate times to say you're sorry -- like when you accidentally bumped into someone, spilling their hot coffee all over them. Or when you forgot your anniversary for the second year in a row.

While those situations call for apologies, you should never feel sorry about making an ask as a fundraiser.

“To go out and to have an apologetic tone when you are asking really sends a mixed, conflicted message to the people you are talking to,” said Timothy Winkler, CEO of Winkler Consulting Group in Charleston, S.C. Speaking at a recent Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, Winkler listed four reasons you should never say "sorry" as a fundraiser.
  • People don’t just hear “sorry.” What you say and what donors will interpret may be different when quickly follow up your ask with an apology. “The secondary message behind what you are communicating to those folks is ‘our mission really isn’t that important. Our mission really isn’t that urgent. Our mission isn’t a priority — there are other more important things you should be focusing on,’” said Winkler.
  • Times are tough. Everyone knows that the economy is in the pits. Your donors don’t need you to remind them of that. That’s what news reports are for. When you ask like the donation is a burden, it will feel that way to the donor.
  • Communicate the need. Statistics have played out again and again that donors still give during economic downturns. Donors need to feel that your mission is worth their discretionary dollar – so make your case for giving as strong as ever.
  • Be confident. “It’s a subtle tone and attitude, but it makes a huge difference in your effectiveness in raising that money,” said Winkler. Like a bad cold, confidence can spread from person to person. Let your donors catch your enthusiasm for the mission.

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