Over the years our team has worked with, spoken to and volunteered with a lot (A LOT!) of non-profits and when trying to raise money we noticed the same questions/objections were raised.
So, we decided to contact a number of leading sales professionals (from cold calling coaches to prospecting professionals) and trawl through leading sales books from Dale Carnegie to Paul Anderson and work out the best ways to overcome these objections.
This list is not a long-winded instruction guide, it is just a list of common objections, the script to overcome these objections and an explanation of why the script works.
2. General conversation and objection handling skills
Before we get into the list there are some basic tips which need to be mentioned no matter what the objection is. Here are some carefully selected points which are applicable to all conversations and (and not just in getting donations):
• Welcome objections – If potential donors are objecting then at least they are talking. Silence is worse than objections because objections give you insight into what the potential donor is thinking
• Remember – you will never have to answer all 25 objections below. Most potential donors only have 1 or 2 objections.
• Nothing beats being prepared and knowing your facts. Make sure you know about your organisation and key facts such as benefits for the beneficiary, how many dollars are required to be donated to give what benefit to the beneficiary, where to find key information (such as what % of a donation makes it to the beneficiary).
• Memorise your key information; you do not want to be stalling if it can be avoided.
• Never argue, always acknowledge the objection.
• Try and say “and” instead of “but”.
• Never lie. If it is tough and a legitimate question, say you will investigate and get back to them.
• Let the potential donor talk and do not interrupt them.
1. Objection: Are you going to ask for money?
Script: “We would like to earn your support but regardless of that I would appreciate the chance to inform you just what we do and how your support would help [insert beneficiary here and not the name of the charity].”
Why it works: You can make the potential donor more comfortable as you are not being pushy. By engaging in conversation you are creating opportunities to get donations in the future.
2. Objection: I can’t afford the amount you want.
Script: “You decide the amount; it’s completely your decision. Even small donations make a big difference to [insert beneficiary here] where as little as $3 can provide [insert benefit here such as textbooks for a student].”
Why it works: People love to know that they are making an actual difference. By giving a clear indication of what difference they are making they will be more engaged.
3. Objection: I support other groups so I’m done for now
Script: “I agree, there are many great causes out there so let’s not worry about money at this stage. I’d still like to have a quick chat though so I can let you know what we are about so when you are next considering a charity you remember us.”
Why it works: It removes the financial obligation and still gives you a chance to explain what your charity does. During this time you have the potential donor’s attention and have an opportunity to change their mind.
4. Objection: We are down to one income so we don’t have the money right now
Script: “I’m sorry to hear that. Could I explain to you what we are about so we can see if there is some other way you can get involved?”
Why it works: They are going through a tough time and they will appreciate that you acknowledge that and that even when money is not involved you are trying to engage them.
5. Objection: I already give enough because I invest in my own community/my family/myself
Script: “I appreciate that you are already giving and if you could perhaps shift a small amount of that to [whatever the cause is] is could make a big difference. Most people don’t realise that just $2 [or whatever the amount is] per month can give [insert benefit here].”
Why it works: You are acknowledging their objection and not resisting it. Instead of trying to get them to part with more money each month you are just trying to educate them on what a big difference they could make if they just adjust their donations.
6. Objection: I already donate because my tax is going to foreign aid/poverty relief is the governments responsibility
Script: “That is true but depends on where you live. The US government donates 0.21% of its gross national income. This means 21c for every $100 compared to other countries like Sweden gives more than $1 for every $100.”
Why it works: Most people seem to think their government gives more in foreign aid than it actually does. By showing them the comparison to a country like Sweden may be motivated to give more [it’s like the keeping up with your neighbour effect]
7. Objection: I’ve already donated this year
Script: “Thank you for your donation it was much appreciated. I just wanted to make sure you were aware that you could make regular donations. Small amounts such as $2 per month could provide stationary for school children [insert the cost and benefit from your non-profits perspective].”
Why it works: You need to show gratitude towards the donor. Once this is done it is about education and showing them the impact of their donations.
8. Objection: Maybe later/I don’t have time right now
Script: “Ok, that is not a problem how about next week Tuesday at 10:00 or Thursday at 14:00? [Or whatever time works for you].”
Why it works: Potential donors need to be given a choice rather than an open ended question. If you say “when would you like to meet” it is easy for them to blow you off. When they are presented with 2 choices it makes it easy for them to just pick one.
9. Objection: I’m busy during work hours
Script: “I understand that you are busy. How about we meet before you start work for a cup of coffee on Wednesday or do something after work on Thursday?”
Why it works: You acknowledge their objection and that they are busy and by providing them with 2 options you make it easier for the potential donor to make a decision
10. Objection: It sounds interesting but I would like some time to think about it.
Script: “That’s understandable; could I give you our website address and grab your email to send you some more information so you can look through it in your own time?”
Why it works: You don’t put any pressure on the potential donor and they should be more willing to provide their email. Once you have their email it is easy to engage them in the future.
11. Objection: I donated last time when you were working on [previous project], but I’m not a fan with what you are doing with [current project]
Script: “I’m sorry and I would like to hear what concerns you have. Do you mind sharing your thoughts with me so I can get some feedback?”
Why it works: One of the biggest parts of dealing with objections like this (which are actually complaints in disguise) is just hearing out the other persons. In many instances if a donor (or customer) is unhappy they just want to be heard. By hearing their side of the story you can firstly show you care by listening to them and secondly find out exactly what it is they are unhappy about. Chances are it is a misunderstanding and you may be able to get the donation after all.
12. Objection: I care about environmental [or whatever it may be] issues so that is who I donate to/I think environmental issues or more important than yours.
Script: “Environmental issues are a good cause and it is great that you support them. However, I’d appreciate it if we could have a quick chat so that you know what we are all about.”
Why it works: You must acknowledge that their current charity is a good one and respect this. If you criticise their current charity in anyway then as you are implying that they have made a wrong decision. It is not a good sales move to tell someone they have made a bad decision as this insults their judgement and will offend them.
13. Objection: My donation would be so small it wouldn’t make a difference
Script: “I understand your concern but you would be surprised by what a big difference a small donation can make. For example $3 would be sufficient for an anti-malaria bed net [or whatever the amount/benefit may be].”
Why it works: By giving them a dollar value and explaining the benefit it makes it more real for potential donors. This way the potential donor can see the problem and the solution they are providing.
14. Objection: Poverty is such a complex issue it can’t be solved.
Script: “Poverty is definitely a complex issue and solving it is a real challenge but we now know that sustainable development is critical to the elimination of poverty. Sometimes giving is required to achieve this for example helping a sick child means they can stay in school and then they will be able to contribute to their economy. [Use example from the benefits of your charity].”
Why it works: A practical example is a great way to make a problem visual for a potential donor and by doing this they can better understand the issue.
15. Objection: Poverty [or whatever the cause may be] is not a problem; it is a symptom of a deeper issue
Script: “Yes, you are right. The symptom is often what is seen on TV and in adverts but it is the underlying problem that we are trying to solve. For example, if you prevent a child from getting sick the first benefit is that you free up the carer’s time so they can contribute to the economy. Secondly you allow that child to attend school and later contribute to solving poverty in their country. [Give a tangible example from your non-profit].”
Why it works: This objection show the potential donor has some knowledge of the issue [or at least they believe they have some knowledge] so it is best to acknowledge their objection. After this you need to give a brief explanation of why you are enabling your beneficiaries to contribute to solving the underlying issue.
16. Objection: People should solve their own problems.
Script: “I agree with you and this is a good point. However, sometimes people just need support structures to get started. This is why [charity name] does [brief explanation] so that [beneficiaries] have the support they need to help themselves.”
Why it works: This is quite an aggressive objection so agreeing with the potential donor upfront disarms them. You then have a brief moment to show why your beneficiaries need the support so they can “solve their own problems”
17. Objection: If we give aid to developing countries they will always rely on us for funding/they will become dependent on our resources
Script: “Other than certain instances like natural disasters, it is true that handouts are not a sustainable way of getting rid of poverty. However, there are ways to help developing countries become sustainable such as long term education and agricultural solution [insert the solution you are providing].”
Why it works: The objection can be correct in certain circumstances so it is important to acknowledge this. After this it is about educating the potential donor and making them aware that you are not simply providing handouts.
18. Objection: Giving/saving children now leads to overpopulation/food shortages etc.
Script: “If mismanaged this can be the case. However research has shown the most important factor for a sustainable population growth is a lower birth rate. Increase access to education, contraception, better health services, clean water [insert your non-profits benefit here] leads to less children dying which means people don’t feel the need to have large families and therefor have fewer children.“
Why it works: This is about educating the potential donor. They may have a strong opinion about the objection but this could well be a misinformed opinion based on incorrect information. So the goal here is to present them with the facts so they can now make an informed decision.
19. Objection: I don’t have to solve other people’s problems
Script: “You are correct, you don’t and we apologise if we made you feel as you have to support [insert non-profits name]. Giving is just an option which we would like you to consider.”
Why it works: This is an aggressive objection so you need to agree with the potential donor to disarm them. Using words such as ‘option’ and ‘consider’ will make the potential donor feel more comfortable and open to hear more information.
20. Objection: I’ve heard that foreign aid can hurt developing countries.
Script: “Yes, unfortunately there has been a lot of bad aid out there and that is why we provide transparency through our annual report/emails/social media [insert whatever method you use to provide transparency].”
Why it works: This has happened in the past so it is important to acknowledge it and make the potential donor feel comfortable by explaining how they can be assured this won’t happen with your charity
21. Objection: The work you are doing sounds great, but I know anything about you
Script: “Thank you, is there anything specific about our organisation that would like to know?”
Why it works: Firstly, this gets them talking which is great as they lead the conversation. Secondly, by asking the right questions you can find out exactly what they are concerned about. Then once you overcome their main concern they should gladly donate.
22. Objection: How do I know what my donations will be used for?
Script: “That is a good question. We outline clearly what all funds are used for in our annual report [insert wherever you show this information].”
Why it works: By answering this question confidently and accurately the potential donor will feel more comfortable knowing that you are a transparent organisation?
23. Objection: I’ve donated before but I can’t say I have felt any better after donating
Script: “Thank you for donating in the past and I’m sorry you have this feeling. We keep all our donors up to date with all our developments and we communicate everything we do. So when you donate to us you will be able to actually see the impact of your donation on Facebook, Twitter, our email newsletter [insert whatever method you use to keep your followers up-to-date].”
Why it works: Although this may seem like a vain question at first, it can be a real issue due to lack of engagement. Too many times people make a donation and never hear from the charity again. It is very important that you utilise all your digital channels to keep your supporters informed and engaged at all times.
24. Objection: I would like to donate but I’ve heard a lot of donations go to corruption?
Script: “Unfortunately this is true in some instances. This is why we provide transparency in our annual report and keep donors up to date with newsletters and social media [insert whatever methods you use to keep supporters up to date].”
Why it works: This is not such a bad objection as the potential donor just needs some reassurance. You need to provide this and explain how he can be certain that the funds are being used appropriately. Social media and emails are great as you can use pictures which are highly engaging.
25. Objection: I’ve never heard of your organisation, can I get some more information.
Script: “Certainly, could I give you our website address and grab your email to send you some more information?”
Why it works: This is a fair question if someone has never hear of your organisation before so you want to listen to their request and not push for the donation at this stage. If you can get their email address then there will be plenty of opportunities for donations in the future.
We hope you have found this list interesting and we really hope it gets you some more donations. If you have any questions about this paper or any other questions related to Online Marketing such as social media and customer engagement, please drop us an email. We would love to hear from you.