Confidence Takes Reps!

by Marcy Heim on August 24, 2022

When Dean Leo Walsh offered me my first fundraising job – a new position at the UW – I said, “I can’t ask people for money.”  Good thing for us both that he didn’t believe me! Turns out not only can I ask people for money, I can ask for ANYTHING and ARTFULLY!  Thus – the Artful Asker. And this work has been a life-long joy!

Yes, I AM confident. AND, I’ve had a lot of practice. Decades of engaging with people – literally thousands of conversations – listening to them, sharing with them, asking them, and appreciating them.  Oh, and screwing it up with them – did I mention that?

confidence takes reps
Learning to ride bike

Think about the FIRST time you did anything….rode a bike, used a new app, tackled a work out, took a test, ask a girl out, cooked a new recipe or changed a diaper.  How did it go?

Here are 5 Tips to Gaining Confidence in building relationships and ASKING for Major Gifts from your donors (and asking for anything in your life, too)!

1. Embrace being a beginner (or doing anything new).

Often we are embarrassed to have anyone know we are a novice. When folks share that they are new to fundraising, their job, or major gifts in my sessions, it tells me they want to learn, grow and do good work. It reminds me not to “assume” what someone knows and to check in that my message is making sense to them. You can be at your job 20 years and be new to this project, this deferred giving vehicle, this relationship, asking for major gifts. Your donor can be a “beginner” at major gifts to you, too. Here’s where passion comes in – you don’t have to know it all or be skilled at it all to be excited and dedicated to what you can do. Embracing you are learning demonstrates both humility and confidence and smoothes out the hiccups in the process.

2. Ask for help and advice.

Avoid the generic questions like, “What brought you to give to our organization?” and find YOUR way of saying, “I’m new, (or our relationship is new) we share a passion for this mission, and I want to make your experience with our organization the very best!”  And DO LEARN. If you’re stuck in actually speaking an ask, what to say, here’s my ask worksheet.  In it are steps to take up to an ask and a simple 3-sentence recipe to make one.

3. Practice. Set Intentions.

I can read the three simple steps to doing a sit up, watch a video on how to do a sit up, even attend an exercise conference and learn about sit ups.  The only way I will get results is to lay down and DO them!  I maybe can only do 3, and not well, but I will get better and better results the more I do them!  Writing an ask sets intentions – it’s your north star. You can ask it over and over to yourself in the mirror until the words flow.

4. Take imperfect action. LOTS of it!

This is another way of saying, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” The more you ask for the appointment, the major gift, whatever, the more confident you will become in asking and the easier it will be. The tool is no good if you don’t use it. Sure, folks will say things that throw you, or hurt you, or surprise you. They will also say wonderful things about your mission and your work. Learn from it all. Forgive. Repeat what best helps folks say, “Yes,” to you. When you have your Ask written before your call, visit, email, text or zoom, the conversation will support your journey to your north star. It will develop that “touch” for knowing when to ask.

Unsure of your next step?
unsure next step- take it anyways

5. Continuously learn and reflect. OWN YOUR ROLE!

“Every master was once a disaster.”  True words from T Harv Eker. View every donor conversation as an opportunity to learn. Push down the negative thinking. “I Ask too much.” “I don’t know them well enough yet.” “What if I offend them?” Instead OWN that YOU ARE KEY TO MAJOR GIVING SUCCESS!

Donors give to people -

Let me close with a story…..

A faith-based client was in a donor conversation and talked about how God provides resources when we don’t think we can afford these types of projects. Afterwards, the donor came up to her, shook her hand, and said, “Yes, God provides resources, but it usually comes from people, and someone has to ask people to give to these projects. I just want to thank you for being that person who asks. What you do is really important.”

I just want to thank you for being that person who asks.  What you do is really important.

smiley face

Invest in JOY®

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