Making fundraising calls can be nerve-wracking, but it helps to have a plan in the form of a fundraising script. In this guide, we’ll offer some tips and sample scripts you can use when calling donors to request a face-to-face meeting or directly request donations. Let’s dive in!
Why and when to use a script for fundraising
When thinking about how to ask for donations, it’s natural to wonder:
- What should I say?
- How should I ask?
- What if I flub the whole thing?
- What if they say no?
Creating a fundraising call script gives you a few handy talking points to guide the conversation in a positive, productive direction and to help you prepare for the different ways the person you’re calling might react to your request.
A script can also help you calm your nerves and make the ask with confidence and poise. Plus, scripts are a must when you are training people who have never asked for gifts before. You can use these scripts in a variety of scenarios, including offering them to:
- Volunteers during a fundraising call bank event
- Board members who may be making fundraising calls on your behalf
- Staff members who feel they need more guidance when reaching out to potential donors
How to write and use your own fundraising call script
What makes a good script?
- It’s conversational. It’s important to have a script that sounds like what you would say in a normal conversation. The donor shouldn’t feel like you are delivering a speech or monologue. You can do this by coming to the meeting prepared by researching the donor and their interests and having a simple ask prepared.
- It encourages the recipient to chat. Your prospective or current donor should talk at least as much as, but ideally more than, you do. Your script sets you up for a two-way dialogue that includes you asking the donor questions, natural pauses for your donors to reply, heartfelt appreciation and affirmation for the donor’s prior support and willingness to talk, and the ask.
Perfecting your fundraising script opening line
One of the most common mistakes I hear fundraisers make is asking for a donation by saying “I have some exciting updates for you.” Let’s face it: Listening to “exciting updates” sounds about as enticing as watching paint dry. Instead, try any of these:
- “I want your input on a project we’re planning.”
- “We want to get your take on something.”
- “We’re trying to figure out a way to do XYZ. I’d love your input!”
- “Every donor has a story to tell about their connection to _____ (name the organization, institution, or mission). I’d love to hear yours.”
- “I want to personally thank you for your previous support and share something new that I think you’ll be interested in hearing!”
- “My job is to get to know our loyal supporters so I can share the impact you’re making. I’d love to share that impact with you and learn more about your interests.”
Example fundraising ask script for your nonprofit’s staff members
“Hi, [their name]. I’m [your name], and I’m the [title] at [your nonprofit].
First off, I want to thank you. Your generous support has [impact they’ve had]. It’s because of you that [another impact they’ve had]. We’re so grateful to you!
Reflect on their kindness:
“[Their name], you have such a compassionate heart for [your cause] and we’re so thankful.
“[Their name], the reason I’m calling today is to ask for your help [accomplishing your campaign’s goal]. It’s the fastest way to [example of how the goal will serve your mission]. Many of our supporters are helping us out today with a [monthly] contribution of [donation amount]. By making this [monthly] gift, you’ll be [an example of what you’ll be able to do with their donation]. Can we count on you to help with a [one-time or monthly] gift of [donation amount]?”
Express your gratitude again:
“We’re so grateful for your continued support, [their name].Thanks to you, [insert impact their gift will have].”
Leave a message:
If you don’t get the person on the phone, leave a message with your callback number and send a follow-up email inviting them to give.
If your goal is to get a visit from or meet with a prospective donor, keep in mind that you might have to talk with them multiple times to convince them to meet with you! You can use alternate channels by calling them, emailing them, texting them, sending them a video message via email, or sending a message on LinkedIn.
And remember: Donors may not give over the phone—but that doesn’t mean they won’t give at all. Some donations will result from your follow-up efforts. Prepare your next steps ahead of time, including sending an appeal, asking for a face-to-face visit, sharing a testimonial from a client you’ve helped, or inviting them to an event.
Example fundraising ask script for a board member
“Hi, [their name]. I’m [your name], and I’m a board member of [your nonprofit]. First off, I want to thank you. Your generous support has [impact they’ve had]. It’s because of you that [another impact they’ve had]. On behalf of the board of directors of [your nonprofit], I want to thank you!”
Reflect on their kindness:
“[Their name], we are so thankful for your compassionate heart for [your cause].”
“[Their name], the reason I’m calling today is to ask for your help [accomplishing your campaign’s goal]. It’s the fastest way to [example of how the goal will serve your mission]. Many of our supporters are helping us out today with a gift of [donation amount]. Your gift will be put to immediate work [short example of what you’ll be able to do with their donation]. Can we count on you to give a [donation amount] today?”
Express your gratitude again:
“We’re so grateful for your continued support, [their name]. It’s so great that you’re doing this. Thanks to you, [insert impact their gift will have].”
Leave a message if necessary:
If the recipient doesn’t pick up, board members should leave a message for the person with their callback number.
They can leave a message like: “Hi [their name]. My name is [your name], and I’m a board member for [nonprofit]. I’m calling to thank you for your previous support and to invite you to be part of a new special campaign. If you’re interested in helping us [short description of the campaign’s goal], please call me back at [ phone number]. That’s [phone number]. Thank you and have a great day! ”
After leaving a voicemail, they should send a follow-up email inviting the supporter to give.
If your board members don’t have time to follow up, it’s fine for staff to pick up where they left off and call those supporters. They can say: “A couple of weeks ago, our board member [the board member’s name] left you a message about something exciting we’re doing at [nonprofit]. I wanted to follow up…”
How to handle donor objections to your ask
Your supporter may not make a donation when you call. Below is a list of sample objections you might hear and a few ways you can handle them.
OBJECTION: “I can’t afford the amount you want.”
RESPONSE: “I completely understand. Any amount would help us [short reminder of the goal]. The amount is completely up to you.”
OBJECTION: “I gave because of your work on _____, but I don’t like the position you’ve taken on ________.”
RESPONSE: “I appreciate your honesty. If you have time, I’d love to hear more about your concerns.”
OBJECTION: “We’re in a tight situation financially, and we don’t have the money.”
RESPONSE: “I completely understand. There are other ways to get involved in our mission that don’t involve making a financial contribution. Would you like to hear about those?
Your fundraising calls are a critical part of your overall donor stewardship strategy. When you take a strategic, personalized approach to setting up meetings and asking for donations, you can meet donors where they are using an appeal that resonates with them. This helps lay the groundwork for better donor relationships for years to come.
Have a favorite strategy to secure a visit or respond to an objection? Drop it in the comments!
Want more help making the ask? Download my Get the Visit, Nail the Ask guide. You can also check out these other free resources from Bloomerang for guidance:
- Major Gifts: The Ultimate Guide to Kickstart Your Program. Major gift fundraising requires carefully-planned fundraising scripts and strategies to maximize major gift potential. Use this guide to build your major gift program.
- Donor Management Software: Buyer’s Guide + 16 Top Solutions. Personalizing your fundraising scripts requires knowing details about your donors, including their giving history. This article rounds up 16 top donor management solutions to help improve your donor data-gathering process.
- How to Upgrade Nonprofit Donors Using Suggested Donations. You can maximize donor gifts by incorporating suggested donation amounts into your fundraising script. Learn how to choose the right donation suggestions using this guide.