Listen and Guide—Don’t Ask
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Perhaps the most oft heard comment I hear is, “But I don’t like to ask for money.” And while asking for the gift is important, let’s unpack what is really being said with such a statement.
When someone says they don’t like to ask for money, they usually mean they:
- Don’t enjoy putting someone on the spot—themselves
- Don’t like being put in an inferior position to someone else
- Don’t want to hear “no” as it will be a rejection of their cause and—by extension—themselves
- Don’t want to put someone else on the spot—by extension—themselves
- Are afraid that the prospective investor might actually say “yes”—and thereby make them feel beholden to the donor
These assessments, although quite real to the person making them, are based upon a faulty understanding of what it means to “make a gift.”
Principle No. 1 of The Eight Principles™ is "Donors are the Drivers®." Donors drive philanthropy through their visions and values. Not their money.
Yes, I said it. It’s not about money. No, no, not!
“But, but, but—our cause needs the money. That’s what is keeping us from fulfilling our mission—money or the lack of it.”
Yes, you need the money. No question.
The critical point to appreciate is the donor isn’t focused on the money.
Philanthropic investors—my preferred term for “donors”—have their attention on something far more valuable to them. They are driven to seek the fulfillment of their own personal visions and values.
“But, we have our own vision.”
Yes, you do. Wouldn’t it be great if somehow your vision and the values of your prospective investors aligned?
“Ah,” you say.
Now, let’s take another look at the statement, “I don’t like to ask for money.”
The fundraiser who succeeds knows that he or she really isn’t asking for money. They are inviting the investor to invest in the fulfillment of the investor’s values. That’s something someone cannot buy with money.
Consider the comment a donor made to me recently. “Larry,” this gentleman said, “it’s really hard to give money away.” This donor has eight-figure capacity, by the way.
I immediately assumed that what he meant was there are so many needs that he has difficulty deciding where to put his resources. I did what so many others do—and I preach about not doing myself! I assumed the scarcity mentality. This was the subject of my keynote at the NonProfit Pro Leadership Conference in May.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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