objection, then response.
It’s pretty clear to you – you just want to know if the donor wants to have a relationship with you. It’s pretty simple and basic. To you. But to the donor, there are all kinds of questions swirling around in her head. Why is this person calling me? What do they want?
That is why you need to be prepared to answer questions and handle any objections to your process of qualifying donors for major gift caseloads.
Most of the objections/questions we encounter in the qualifying process are usually one of the following, or a combination of them:

  1. Are you calling me for money? The simple answer is “No, this is not a fundraising call and I am not a telemarketer.” We counsel MGOs not to jump right into this topic unless there is a sense that it needs to be said. (If you sense that the donor is needing to hear this, then of course, say it.) The reason you are calling is (a) to thank the donor, (b) to let him know you have been asked to be his personal representative at the organization, and (c) find out how you can better serve him in his giving to the organization. This last point is about securing the donor’s passions and interests, communication preferences and any other information that will help you help the donor in his relationship with the organization.
  2. I don’t have time to talk right now. Just ask when a better time is, and give options. For instance, it might sound like this: “That’s fine, Mr. Reynolds. Would tomorrow at this same time be OK, or maybe day after tomorrow sometime between 1 and 5 pm would be better?” This approach gives two options, one with a range. Your objective is to secure a specific alternate date and time.
  3. I already know everything you do, so we don’t need to talk. “That’s great! May I ask you a question? Could you tell me why you give to NAME OF ORG?” And then try to uncover interests and passions AND communication preferences. Rather than get into a debate on whether the donor knows everything about your organization or not, you are asking for information YOU need.
  4. Please don’t spend time or money coming to visit me. This objection gives you the opportunity to secure communication preferences. Here is what your response might sound like: “Oh, OK. Thanks for telling me that. Would you prefer I communicate with you on the phone or by email?” And then you secure that contact information. Often, a donor will ask for communication by email and then, over time, the relationship grows to the point that a phone call and even a visit is welcomed.
  5. I’m a private person. “I understand. Thank you for telling me that. First of all, let me assure you that your giving to NAME OF ORG and the financial records related to your giving is kept private. Secondly, my only role is to help you secure information you need and want about your giving, or about the organization.” For instance, you might say: “your gifts to the X program are so important. And you likely will want to know, from time to time, what is happening in that program – how lives have been impacted for good.” Then ask the donor how you can help provide her information on impact.
  6. I’m not the one you need to talk to – talk to my spouse. This one is a bit complicated. You need to accept it at face value, even if you believe it is an excuse not to talk (which is a key clue on what the donor wants in your relationship, namely, not to talk to you). But we suggest saying something like this: “Would tomorrow at this same time be a good time to talk to your spouse, or would day after tomorrow sometime between 1 and 5 pm be better?” This, like the “I don’t have time” objection, gives the donor choice. And if the donor helps you connect, then you have your relationship answer. If not, you also have an answer. You also could continue to send information to the donor you are talking to, knowing that he will share it with his spouse. One time I was given this reason for not connecting, only to find out that the real decision-maker was the person I was talking to.
  7. I’ll let you know if I need something. “Ok, do you mind if I call (email) you every once in awhile to let you know how your giving is making a difference?” Here you are simply trying to establish even the smallest connection which can then, over time, bloom into something else.
  8. I am really upset about X. Here, you give the donor the platform and channel to offer constructive criticism or just to complain about things. You should listen well and do the best you can to help address the concern the donor has. Believe me, in this situation, there is a direct correlation between a donor who is heard and a donor who engages.

There may be other types of questions or objections you have encountered. If you have them, please send them to Jeff and me.
Here is the whole point of this exercise.
You are trying to determine if the donor will engage with you. Engagement means that there is warmth, response and interaction. At this point, the content of your interaction is not as important as the fact that the interaction occurred, and that you are getting a sense that you are welcome to interact in the future. THIS is what you are trying to accomplish in the qualifying process. Keep this one point in mind.
Qualifying a donor for your caseload is one of the most important actions you can take in making sure your major gift work is effective and efficient. There is nothing like having a group of donors in your care who actually welcome talking to you.
Read the whole series: How to Qualify Donors

  1. An Introduction
  2. Why Qualify?
  3. What’s the Objective?
  4. The First Step – A Caseload Pool
  5. The Process of Qualifying
  6. Dealing with Objections