5 phrases every fundraiser should use

It's easy for today's professional fundraiser to grow overwhelmed by the myriad tools and resources at our disposal. Data analytics, social media strategies, and such help us to maximize our nonprofits' charitable revenue--with "help" being the operative word. These tools support, rather than replace, the fundamental process of building meaningful relationships between donors and nonprofits.

So, in the spirit of going back to the basics of our field, I'd like to focus on good, ol' fashioned one-on-one interaction and share five of the most important phrases you can use with donors, potential donors, and others you connect with on your org's behalf:

1. "Thank you..." "...for your donation, for taking my call, for volunteering for that event, for caring about our mission." It's hard to thank someone too much!

2. "I will find out and get back to you." If someone asks a question about your nonprofit that you can't answer yourself, an opportunity now exists to A. assist that person in better understanding the mission and B. schedule meaningful and timely follow-up with them. 

3. "Who is the best person for me to speak with about X?" This is one of the most powerful questions you can ask someone. Often, this question opens the door to more and more donor leads--and can bring the person you asked even closer to your org. 

A recent example from my own work: I met with a local business that interfaces regularly with large biotech firms, an industry that aligns well with one of the agencies for which I fundraise. I asked this local business for their thoughts on helping me to approach some of their biotech clients for sponsorships, and they came back with a variety of leads and ideas. They're very excited to build bridges between their clients and mine for a couple of reasons: Doing so will A. show them for the caring, community-minded business that they are, and B. offer their clients something very unique--a high-visibility funding opportunity in a large urban area. Win-win! 

4. "Can you help?" Sometimes people hesitate to become involved with a nonprofit (whether through giving, volunteering or pro-bono support) simply because they have not yet been asked. So, remove that barrier for them. Don't hesitate to ask this question of individuals who seem to appreciate and encourage your org's work. 

5. "When should I follow up?" I'm sure we've all been in a variety of scenarios that seem to back us into a proverbial corner; we ask someone for advice, a gift, a lead, etc. on behalf of our nonprofit, but for any number of understandable reasons, that person can't help us presently. Rather than retreating sheepishly, be sure to find out when a good timeframe would be for you to loop back in with the person. Try this at least once or twice with someone before giving up.

What phrases would you add to this list?

Author: Sarah M. Jackson

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