Major Gift Development

Responding to Objections and Closing the Gift

Thank you for joining my series on major gift development. Over the past several weeks I’ve discussed why major giving is so critical to your fundraising program, the development of a cultivation plan, preparation for the solicitation, and the mechanics of the ask. Now we are ready to discuss common put-offs and/or objections you may encounter when you solicit. Last week I promised to offer you thoughts about how to respond to unanticipated reactions, so here we go.

It is common for anyone who has been asked to do something they have not been thinking about to offer some objections. This may mean they need more information or time to reorient themselves. A few rules of thumb once you encounter an objection:

See this week’s freebie for list of responses to common put-offs – this will help you be ready to respond.

I often suggest that my clients solicit in teams so they are paired with a member of the board or staff who is better able to answer complex, technical or programmatic questions.  Sometimes board members prefer to present the case for support and ask that the professional member of the solicitation team ask for the gift, and others prefer the exact opposite. This is extremely case dependent. Either way, soliciting in teams or in pairs helps prepare you for unanticipated questions and provides a second set of eyes and ears during the meeting.


Once you respond to objections, again mention the ask amount and the key benefits of making this gift. Re-mention what they seem most responsive to. Always maintain control. If he says, “I’ll think about it,” say “That’s great. Would it be ok if I call you on Friday to follow up?” If she wants to call you after giving the gift some thought, say “Great, but we’re both so busy, if we don’t reach each other, I’ll call you next week – would Tuesday be enough time for you to think about our conversation?”

  • Try saying, “I hear what you’re saying, but you are important to us and I want to keep you involved. I’d like to have you visit our center and see what we are trying to accomplish.”
  • If she talks about serious business reverses, say, “I can tell it’s a tough time; but even if the timing is not good now, we want you to know what we are planning.” Then leave the call or meeting without “closing”, and plan your strategy for a second conversation.
  • If you haven’t completed your solicitation in the first call, make a definite time to speak again.
  • No matter what happens, thank the donor or prospect profusely for their time and consideration. You can never thank too much! If the donor feels they have disappointed you during the meeting they are less likely to follow up or make another gift. Be upbeat and appreciative no matter how you feel inside!

In two weeks I will be back to discuss best practices on donor stewardship – i.e., “I received the gift – now what?!” I hope you’ll join me for that conversation and I look forward to your comments and questions about common objections and solicitation put-offs. And please contact us with any questions about your campaign.