In fundraising, silence has power

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What do Beethoven’s 5th symphony, a library and an effective fundraising ask have in common? They all require silence in order to be effective. 

If a candidate is especially new at the fundraising process, they’ll often rush through each step of their fundraising calls to get to the critical “ask” portion. They’re in such a hurry that they scarcely give their donor a moment to get a word in edgewise. Whatever the reasoning, don’t allow your candidate’s questions to crowd the donor out of his or her answer. 

Silence, during these exchanges, is important for many reasons. Not only does it allow your donor to respond fully to your answer and have time to respond accurately. But the silence is also critical to add the necessary weight to your request. 

Don’t get too worried if the pause becomes lengthy while your potential donor formulates a response – and certainly don’t jump in and offer other options. Allow the donor to respond to your question before offering alternatives or further information. 

Assuming you’re speaking with adults capable of making their own decisions, you don’t need to help them out or soften the blow. Give your donors the respect of allowing them to say, “yes” or “no” to your request.

And remember, the next time you ask a donor for money, bite your tongue after your ask. The silence is just as important as the ask itself. 

Kirsten Borman is a nationally recognized Republican fundraiser and founder of KB Strategic Group, a Washington, D.C.-based firm specializing in personalized fundraising consulting. Her clients have included several members of Congress, candidates for federal office, PACs, committees and gubernatorial candidates.

A version of this post was also published on Kirsten’s blog.


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