When you ask someone to partner with you financially, you’re always hoping for a “yes”. But how should you respond when you receive any other answer? Here are the 5 most common responses to any ask for funding, and tips on how to turn them into a possible “yes”.
Sigh of relief! This response is the desired outcome for every current and future donor. A simple "yes" to partner financially should be followed with a resounding, "Thank you!" on your end. You can then move into deeper conversation by asking if they would be able to begin partnering within the month, or asking when would be a good time for them to begin their financial contribution.
Also, be sure to find out how the confirmed donor would prefer to give their contribution (i.e. online, by mail, personal check, etc.), and give them a simple way to fulfill their commitment, with a pre-stamped envelope, web address, or number for text-to-give.
When you get a response as anything other than "yes", always begin your acknowledgement with a simple, "I understand". This a professional way of saying, "It's okay, you have your reasons, and I trust you and your decision. You're the manager of those resources, not me."
When you do receive a "no" response, remember that "no's" are many times "not right nows". It’s good to keep in mind that the person would likely not be meeting with you if they were completely uninterested. If you get a “no” response, don't just throw the relationship away. Partnership takes time, and you can always continue updating them about the ministry by asking if you can keep them on your newsletter or mailing list. If you get a "no" response, consider continuing the relationship in some way.
Not Right Now
Not right now is not a no. When you receive a, "not right now" response, try replying with, "I understand, can I contact you again in few months?" If you can put a time frame on the ask, you can keep the ball in your court to be able to ask again in the future. Keeping the ball in your court is not about control, but about the importance of the ministry to you. Your ministry is most likely not going to be the day-to-day priority of your donors, but it will always be yours.
It would not be fair to give another person the burden of contacting you when they are ready. Contacting you in the future is not their responsibility, so you need to take ownership of touching base with them in the future by saying, "Can I give you a call again in a couple days, months, etc.?"
I Need to Think About It
When someone responds with, "I need to think about it," your response should always be, "I understand, could I follow up with you in a few days?" In any response other than "yes" you need to set expectations for the future relationship. If you ask them if you can talk to them later and they agree to it, then they are expecting you to call them later. Ask them if you can call them on a specific day at a time that works with their schedule so they get to decide. Create expectations for both of you that you plan to keep.
As a person who is pursuing them, you may feel as if you are always hounding them. But if you can agree about what you are going to do, then it will open up the door for you to feel good about following through on everyone's expectations.
I'm Not Sure We Can Do That Much
"I'm not sure we can do that much" is the hardest answer to respond to, because it requires you to make the ask twice. It’s hard enough to ask once, but asking twice takes some real courage. It would be easy to say, "I understand, okay, bye!" but don't! They are giving you this response because you simply asked for the wrong amount. This still isn't a "no".
When making the second ask, the best way to get an honest response is, "I understand, is there an amount you feel more comfortable with?" because you still land on a specific amount, and they can decide what that amount will be (and the best part is, you turn their response into a "yes"!).
When we ask potential financial partners a clear question, they can answer honestly with one of five possible responses: yes, no, not right now, I need to think about it, or I'm not sure we can do that much. If you can learn to think through your answer to these responses ahead of time, you have the possibility to turn every response into a positive one!
Russell Cooper, Co-Founder
As co-founder of Tailored, I am dedicated to developing generosity in the Body of Christ. This is why I'm passionate about creating strategic partnerships with disciple-making organizations, as well as coaching leaders. When I have free time, I'm watching America’s Test Kitchen and trying out new recipes on my wife, my most dependable food critic. I also have fun taking care of our backyard chickens, Vicky and Flo.