The Value in an Objection in Donor Relationships
Overcoming objections: a topic we as fundraisers think through, write about, train on and – occasionally – obsess over after making a solicitation. Being prepared for objections, including how to anticipate them and how to respond, is one of the most important traits of being a strategic and relationship-based fundraiser.
When I’ve prepared to ask for a gift, I aimed to know as much as possible: what motivates the prospect, what size ask is best, and what factors will be present in that prospect saying “yes” or “no.”
But the reality is there may be something I won’t know or didn’t anticipate, and sometimes that thing is only surfaced in response to a request. Often, the objection is where the most important information comes out. And if we do our work well and ask meaningful questions, objections come much earlier in the relationship than the ask: we field concerns throughout a relationship, about everything from our institution’s efficacy to its leadership to its policies and more.
These doubts can not only shut a fundraiser down, they can turn off our institutional partners who we count on to help build prospect relationships. That is why it’s so important to frame the surfacing of objections, and addressing them, as a necessary, normal, and productive part of the process.
When prospects tell us what concerns might get in the way of their generosity, they are handing us incredibly valuable insight. Which is why our opportunity is to engage in those objections – not so much to immediately overcome them, but to dive deeper in, seek to understand, and then to work together to move past them.
Of course I still advise identifying potential objections and preparing responses. But it’s in the objection that the most productive insight can be unveiled, and the most impactful work can be done to move a prospect toward generosity if we’re willing to listen, understand, and engage.
KDD Philanthropy can help your organization strengthen its culture with fundraising essentials training, including preparing for and overcoming objections.. Contact us today about how we can help your team achieve even greater success.