I've long been an advocate of PYITS: put yourself in their shoes. (I've blogged about it here, here, here, and here.) But during the Q & A portion of my "Taking the Fear Out of Face to Face Solicitation" seminar last week at Blackbaud's Conference for Nonprofits, a participant asknig me how I reacted to being asked for money caught me off guard.

I'm not sure I've ever thought of the question that way before. And the answer wasn't pretty. What came to mind was when a nonprofit left me a message asking why I didn't give money to them. The voice mail was something like, "We're both Christian groups and you're supporting another group like ours so why in the world aren't you supporting us?"

My blood started to boil. I called him back and told him exactly what I thought of his group and his target audience. That my giving to this other group was exactly because I didn't want to give to his. I told him I was sure they were doing good work and it was probably work that others were interested in but not me. I ended letting him know how appalled I was with the brazen familiarity of his voice mail (we'd never met yet he acted like we were buddies) and its unabashed entitlement (that they somehow deserved my money and I was apparently too dumb to see it).

It wasn't a pretty phone call. And I'm in the process of trying to apologize for my attitude. They are doing great work. It's still not targeted where I want my giving to go, but I believe life for thousands of people is better because this group exists.

Reliving that experience helps me to re-examine my own fundraising:

  • Do I seem overly familiar with people I haven't met?
  • Is entitlement, that awful "we deserve your money" attitude, sneaking into my solicitations?
  • Have I done enough homework to see if the prospect really is interested in us?

How about you? How did you respond the last time you were asked for money?

Did you get asked after you've made all your charitable decisions for the year? Did you get asked for more than you were expecting? Or were you simply thrilled you could invest in such a cool organization and grateful that someone brought it to your attention?

Take some time today to review your responses. Then ask yourself how your answers will change your own approach to asking.

[A copy of the powerpoint slides for the Taking Fear Out of Face to Face Solicitation seminar are here. An audio recording of the Creating Donor Evangelists seminar is here. If you want the direct link to the mp3 file, click here.]

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