You’ve done it. You’ve just asked that donor for a big gift. And now the donor is thinking. And of course as a seasoned major gift officer you are waiting for the donor to respond. Now, that period of silence can be unnerving. But, the truth is a donor can only responds in three ways: yes, no or maybe. Regardless of their answer, there’s a simple, fail-safe tactic that you can employ to give you some time to think of how to respond to your major donor’s answer after an ask…
You’ve done it. You’ve just asked that donor for a big gift. And now the donor is thinking. And of course, as a seasoned major gift officer you are waiting for the donor to respond. Now, that period of silence can be unnerving.
“What is the donor thinking?” “Did I ask for enough? “Is that going to work?” “I just don’t know.” And that’s all going through your head. But finally, the donor responds.
And as the donor starts talking, many major gift officers get right to “What is my response going to be?” “This is what I’m going to say.” “This is how I’m going to say it.” “I’m going to deal with this objection that way. I’m going to deal with that.” And it’s all going on. And that’s totally natural because our anxiety can be up especially when we’re in the middle of an ask.
Now, donors can only respond in three ways. They can respond with a yes, with a no, or a maybe. There’s three simple options. Now, there’s variations within those, but there’s three primary options that they have.
Respond to Your Major Donors with Thank You
Regardless of their answer there’s a simple, fail-safe tactic that you can employ to give you some time to think of your response as you speak to the donor. And that response is very simply “thank you”.
If the donor says yes, obviously your answer is, “Thank you for your gift. Wow, this is so amazing. I’m really excited!” Or whatever response would be authentic to you. But if the words “thank you” is our of your mouth first you’ve already got half of your answer done.
If the answer is no your response should also be “thank you”. And instead of, “Ugh, okay,” or “I’m sorry,” you can say, “Thank you so much for your consideration. I appreciate how much you have thought through this and how seriously you take our cause.” And then you can continue with how you’re going to respond to that objection.
If it’s maybe, “Thank you for the intentionality that you’re putting into this request. I can totally understand why you need to take some time to think through it.”
Either way, any of the three options, “thank you” is the best way.
Benefits of Responding to Major Donors with Thank You
And here are two benefits to having your first response being “thank you”. The first, is that it honors the donor. It gives the donor an opportunity to feel validated, regardless of what their answer is.
And the second reason, is “thank you” gives you time to listen and to think. You can actually listen to the donor’s response if you know that regardless of what the response is, you’re going to say “thank you”. That’s the first thing that’s going to come out of your mouth. And then, while you are saying “thank you,” you can formulate your response. “Okay, thank you. This is how I’m going to respond.” “Thank you. This is how I’m going to respond.” “Thank you. This is how I’m going to respond.”
It’s a simple little trick, but if you employ it every time it will make your responses to donor objections and donor responses so much more successful.
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