Watch the fundraising objections fall to the floor

Last week, I was invited to give a full day Ask Without Fear!® training in Kansas City. We had a blast.

One of the exercises involved overcoming objections…even before they come up. The process was:

  1. The participants pictured someone on their “chicken list” - a person they were afraid to ask for a gift.
  2. They then wrote down the scariest objections - one objection per post-it note
  3. Next, they put all of their post-it notes on the wall.
  4. We then made an attempt to group them into common themes like:
    • Kids in college
    • The economy is tough
    • Your CEO makes too much money
  5. Finally, we answered the objections together as a group.

You won’t believe what happened next!

Fundraising Objections Falling to the Floor - Kansas CityAs we started answering the objections, the objections started falling to the floor! There were so many dropping, it sounded like leaves dropping from a tree in the fall!

And that’s when it hit us: the objections were - literally - falling away.

It was a powerful image.

Do this with your team or board

This is a powerful exercise to do with your board or team. Participants commented on how cathartic it was to write down the objections. Just seeing them in writing helped them weaken in power.

No matter how skilled you are at overcoming objections, people become far more confident when they’re able to answer the objections for themselves. I think part of the reason is that as they answer one objection, they’ll realize they can probably answer other ones that didn’t come up too.

Use the answers to objections in your cultivation!

Once you have answers or responses to the most common objections, use them. It’s great to be able to use them at a solicitation. But it’s even more effective to use them in your nonprofit storytelling.

  • Are your prospects saying that their fixed income is keeping them from giving? In your nonprofit marketing, share stories of donors that have made planned gifts or annuity commitments.
  • Are your prospects saying they can’t give because their children are in college? Feature profiles of people that continue giving despite their kids being in college.
  • Are people saying it’s not a good time for them? Share stories of donors that felt it wasn’t a good time either, but who found out creative ways to give anyway.

Answering the objections before you even get to the ask can help donor prospects be more prepared for your ask. And that can make your asking process go so much more smoothly.

While a “yes” to an ask is obviously easier than getting an objection, objections are good. They tend to show the donor is interested in giving.

So do some work with your team this month to prepare for objections prospects might give!

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to


  1. I think your last point was especially salient. If a donor won't give they'll say so flat out and the ocnversation will be over. An objection is a demonstration that a potential donor wants to give but is first discussing (with themselves) whether they can justify it. A good fundraiser will help the donor to answer that question. It doesn't mean forcing them to donate it just means helping them see why their objections might not be as important as they first think.

  2. Providing documents to show the real long term costs associated with running the organization can help to generate donor funds. A Reserve Study is a budgeting tool utilized by Non-Profits for the long term repair & replacement of building components and assets. Many organizations provide donors with annual budget requirements but do not include the long term expenses related to the building deterioration and repair projects which are infrequent but extremely costly.

What would you add?