As someone who did fundraising on many boards, I can say that Robinson knows the territory. The website for nonprofits Guidestar ran an excerpt from his book in which Robinson gives a lesson in how to respond to avoidance tactics of funders when you call:
I don't mean to imply that that the following responses constitute one conversation, and that you have to handle eight or nine put-offs in a row. But my general rule is that you should respond to at least three before giving up.
Objection: "I don't have time to talk right now." Response: "When would be a better time to call?"(The article is no longer available on the site, but here is a link to a PDF of the piece).
Objection: "You sent me a letter? What letter?" (Or alternatively, "There's a pile of mail on the kitchen table—bills and such—and I've been avoiding it.")
Response: "Well, let me tell you about the letter."
Objection: "I don't really have the time to meet. Can't we just do this over the phone?"
Response: "That's up to you. The meeting takes about 20 minutes, and I'll make it as convenient as possible—I can come to your home or office, whatever works for you. This just works better if we meet face to face."
Objection: "You know, I generally make charitable decisions with my spouse/partner/financial advisor/eight-year-old child/psychic friend." Response: "Is it appropriate for the three of us to sit down together? If so, when would be a good time? If not, how can I help you have that discussion—maybe the two of us could meet first?"
Robinson is a consultant to nonprofits and offers workshops on many topics, such as getting your board of directors to donate. Achieving success often means discarding your long-held beliefs and attitudes about charitable giving.
Much of his coaching centers on choosing the right words. For that reason, I like his three rules of telephone appointment making:
1. Whatever the objection, take it literally. Rather than make assumptions about what other people mean, and trying to read between the lines, take them at their word.The hardest part of fund-raising and sales for many is the fear of rejection. Remember that you are not begging; you are offering something of value, namely the satisfaction of giving to a cause dedicated to serving the community.
2. Assume success. Don't ask, "Do you want to meet?" Say, "When do you want to meet?" This is a subtle distinction, but it makes a big difference.
3. Keep bringing it back to your agenda. "When would be a good time to meet?"
What's the worst that can happen? The person will say no. If you believe in the value of the work you are doing, let that belief overcome your fear. Your belief and passion will inspire many potential donors.
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