These steps will calm your fear and help you feel confident!
Money. It can feel intimidating. Especially when you are asking for it.
If you’re involved with a nonprofit as an employee or volunteer board member, chances are you need to ask for money regularly. To do so, it’s imperative that you’re comfortable making the ask because it will quite literally pay off in the long run.
Most of us have some emotion when it comes to our own money and, if we aren’t aware of those emotions, we can bring them into conversations about fundraising. Couple that with a fear of rejection and it can be a recipe for inaction.
that you’re about to ask for $1,000 to support your cause.
What feeling do you have in the moment?
Pay attention to how your body responds when you imagine making the ask. Maybe your heart beats a bit faster or your breathing quickens. You may feel a sensation in your stomach, throat or another area. You may even feel a temperature change.
These feelings in your body are real and normal. Your fight or flight stress response has been activated.
But, the key is to not let it overshadow your actions. Don’t let it keep you from making the ask. In the moment, you can calm your body and turn down or turn off that stress response with a few simple techniques.
First, you can extend your exhale. This is done exactly how it sounds, breathe out for longer than you breathe in. By consciously reshaping your breath you can influence the biological cascade happening in your body. Talking slowly can also help.
Second, focus on your immediate surroundings, notice the colors, textures, light/shadows, sensation of your weight on the chair or floor. This conscious effort to pay attention to the present moment, helps your body feel grounded and safe. This will help shift you out of the fight or flight response and get out of the story in your head that this interaction could go south.
Lastly, and most importantly, you can (and should) imagine a positive outcome. Imagine the person says ‘yes’!
Our mind is powerful tool. How we think influences how we feel and behave. You can use this to your advantage by visualizing all of the details, including how you will feel, when the meeting goes exactly as you planned.
Even before you go into your meeting you can take action to overcome your fear of making the ask. These 5 steps will help you prepare and feel confident that you can eloquently verbalize requests for money.
1. Do Your Research – You need to know who you’re connecting with prior to going into a meeting. Does this person have a giving history with your organization? What other type of organizations do they support? What topics have they talked about or areas of interest have they shared in previous conversations? If you are meeting with a corporate representative be sure you understand the organization’s process for requesting donations and the values, mission and current philanthropic activity of the organization.
2. Know Your Goal – It is critical to know what you are asking for and why, both for the donor meeting and the bigger picture. What does success look like in both areas? You will need to be able to communicate this clearly with a specific call-to-action.
3. Know Their Goal – Be sure you have spent time with this potential donor prior to asking them for money. You don’t want to surprise them with your request. You will also want to be sure what you are asking for is aligned with their goals – not just yours! Don’t know their goals? Ask them. Truly listening to what they share and adapting your ask to support their personal goals can help them feel heard and connected to your organization.
4. Communicate the Impact – Have at least 2-3 clear and succinct examples or stories of how their donation will impact your organization. These will help the donor connect with your organization emotionally. Research has shown that giving actually feels good. Paint a picture of the impact their contribution will have on your cause.
5. Bring a Partner – Solicitations are much better when made by two people. It can feel less intimidating and more conversational for everyone involved. Just be sure to create talking points, rehearse together and clearly identify which one of you is making the actual ask. Recording your practice runs can help identify where you can improve before the meeting. You may also rehearse different paths the conversation may take and how you will graciously address any objections.
Completed all the steps? Now it’s time to go make your ask.
Did these steps work for you? Let me know!
About Rachel M. Decker
Having spent nearly 20 years in the nonprofit sector as an effective and strategic fundraising and foundation executive, Detroit Philanthropy Founder and President, Rachel Decker is passionate about helping others, making meaningful connections, solving problems and, most importantly, creating impact in our community. With the founding of Detroit Philanthropy, she turned that passion into a commitment to champion philanthropy throughout metro Detroit as a philanthropic advisor, fundraising consultant and speaker.