You may still have the jitters, but your fundraising call (Need a call script? Check out this post here.) is going well and you feel like you are ready to make a hard ask for a donation. Here are a few tips to make your ask sound natural and result in success.
Making the Ask
Once you have finally reached the point where you are ready to make the ask, you need to be ready to actually make the ask.
Most people are taught that actually asking for money is untoward, but both you (and most likely the person you are talking to) know that that is the main reason for the call - there is no reason to avoid asking for a donation now that the time has come.
Swing for the Fences
When you do get to the donation ask itself, always make it sound urgent. After all, if you don’t express how urgent it is, why would a donor go out of their way to make a donation?
You should always ask for a commitment today, you should always say what the funds will go towards, and you should never be afraid of silence after an ask. These three steps will make the person on the other line feel the need to respond and make them want to meet help you with a donation.
When you are ready, have a stock phrase such as “You know, (Name), I have had a great time talking to you today, and the reason I called was to hear from people like you about what I should be focusing on during my run. As you may know, a successful campaign needs to send out mail, have campaign literature and lawn signs - and people often don’t think about simple things like water for our volunteers when we go knocking door to door. That is why I want to ask you for a donation of (amount) today to help me in my run.”
Hold for the silence and let them respond. This may be difficult, but it is effective.
Also, what amount of money do you ask for? When you pick up the phone, you should have an expected donation amount from the person in mind. Your grandma may only be able to give you $5, whereas that big donor who as always contributed to other campaigns has been a solid $500 from the beginning of time.
Now, it may sound counter-intuitive, but if you call someone and ask them for, say, $25, and they immediately say yes and donate, you actually did a poor job on the call - or at the very least, you could have done better. Why? Because if they said yes to $25 you know that you came in too low and could have asked for more. If you had started at $100 and they say no, you could have pivoted and said: “I do understand that that is a lot of money, but I am trying to reach as many voters as possible, could you do $50?” If they say yes, you know you were closer to maximizing your possible donation.
Always try to get a commitment to donate, and always ask for specific amounts. If the above person says no to $50, ask them if they could help cover the cost of volunteer supplies with a donation of $25. If they say yes to this, you have again maximized your donation. The numbers and the reasons will be different for each potential donor, but the result is the same - maximizing the possible donation. Once they say yes to a specific amount, repeat it back with the person’s name by saying: “Thank you so much, (Name), I am happy my campaign can count on your donation of (amount) today! thank you!”
Finally, if you feel the conversation has gone well, but the potential donor still says no, ask them if they would be willing to volunteer or if it would be okay to call when it is closer to election day. As the old saying goes, don’t take no for an answer but be prepared for it by having a backup ask.
You're not done yet though... Click here for tips on what to do after the call.
Step 3 - Making the Ask