If you want to have them at hello

The toughest part of a fundraising call isn’t the ask. It’s the tenuous moments after the potential donor opens the door. Knowing that a first impression could be your last can give even the most seasoned development officer a bad case of stage fright.

So how do you make the most of “that pregnant series of moments that lasts for around a minutes . . . and is the beginning of potentially important relationships?” According to an article from  Entrepreneur magazine, it’s all about how you enter the room. Check out my paraphrase of helpful tips for business types, but just as useful to fundraisers.

  • Right off the bat, “offer no apologies or expressions of trepidation or false humility. Protect yourself with confidence. Confidence makes you look comfortable. It should seem like there’s no other place in the world you’d rather be.” Remember, you are there representing a great cause, and one about which you believe the potential donor has reason to care.
  • Humor can help spice things up, but as with any seasoning, a sprinkling is usually enough. “Don’t be aimless, don’t be casual, don’t be flippant.” Your cause isn’t silly and neither should you be in the way you present it.
  • Curiosity may kill the cat, but it’s a great way to win the heart of the ones you’re with. Let the potential donors “know they’re important and that you’re there because you have a message to given them that you honestly believe they will are eager to receive. ” But don’t do all the talking. The best fundraisers are as eager to hear as they are to tell. “Everybody would rather talk to someone who is curious about them.” It makes for a rich, interesting conversation.

Follow these tips and “who wouldn’t want to be in a room with you now? You’re amiable and confident and pleased with the way things are going. You’re ready to talk and to listen. You haven’t given them any reason why they couldn’t see themselves giving you a lot of money.”

In short, you had them at hello.

If you found this post helpful, you’ll want to (re)read “Overcoming first solicitation jitters.”

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