Writing a Script

This is the standard and the best way to construct a fundraising conversation. It has been tested in millions of of phone calls.

I personally have made well over 10,000 phonefundraising calls and what ever campaign, organization or cause – the overall structure I here present is what works best.

A script has tree components: Opening, The Case and Closing.


  1. Introduce yourself and the organization.
  2. Ask questions.

What is most important in your opening is to get the person so invested in the conversation that you get to present your case.

Secondary, you want to get the person in a talkative mood.


Hello you are speaking with Martin Carlsson from the organization “Help The Children”, we help poor children by giving them an education.

I assume you’ve heard about us.?

Before we start, it is important for me to ask you: Do you think it is important that we help children to get an education?

The Case

What is it that your organization does and why should the person donate?

  1. Problem.
  2. Solution.
  3. What your organization does.


  1. Many children in Langtbortistan doesn’t get an education, mostly because the country doesn’t have enough schools.
  2. The solution is to build more schools.
  3. Because we have such loyal supporters, we are able to build schools.


  1. Ask for help
  2. Tell them how they can help


  1. Do you want to help us building schools in Langtbortistan and help the children get an education?
  2. Thanks! What we need is a donation. Some people are able to give XX, what do you think about that?
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Handling Objections Part 3: Writing a Script

There is a way the pros handle objections and if you want to be one of us, this is what you should do it: Write down and test ways to handle objections.

Warning! This is an insider tip ;)

No campaign has more than 8 different objections (most only has 3-6). It means you can easily write a list of all the objections and write down the solutions that work for you.

A Good Idea: Remember to ask other fundraisers or your team leader for their advice.

Here are examples on what I’ve used when I was fundraising for WSPA.

Note. This is translated from Danish. The wording in fundraising is very important, so you have to test and adapt this to your own language.

Her: I’m too old to donate.
Me: that’s exactly why you’re important. The pensioners who have lived a long life and have the knowledge needed to see that one must not treat animals the way … dogs are treated in South Korea.

Him: I’m not interested in animals.
Me: this is precisely why I called you. It is important that we all stop the nasty way some people treat animals. For example … there are still bulls being mistreated in the Spanish bullfights.

Him: I give in my own way / I like to decide when I give.
Me: Great, when you say this I can deduct, you are a person who knows the importance of making the world a better place, especially for animals who desperately need our help. We are calling out to people like you, to politely remind you that there are animals suffering unnecessarily so a few men can make money. For example … we are putting an end to trade in dog meat in South Korea – and it is high time because…

Him: I look on the Internet / you have a webpage don’t you.
Me: Of course we have a good and very comprehensive website – it might be a bit confusing in between – so that is why I’m hired to make the information a little more accessible, so anyone can made a good decision – do you have any questions about WSPA?

The person always answers “No”. So now you can just continue with a new case.

Him: It is of no use / it doesn’t help to do anything.
Me: Grin. You must certainly not say to those brave men and women out on the frontline fighting against animal cruelty.

More on Handling Objections:

Handling Objections Part 1: Introductions
Handling Objections Part 2: Advanced
Handling Objections Part 3: Writing a Script

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Handling Objections Part 2: Advanced

Learn to LOVE objections! They give you important information, handling them correct will build comfort, rapport and trust, they give you an opportunity to close and … they are fun to overcome. This post will show you how to use objections to your advantage.

Objections as buying signals

Look at the image I chose for this post. NO USE OF THE POOL IS ALLOWED … AFTER DARK. This is an example of a No that actually means Yes. Even though it says “NO USE OF THE POOL IS ALLOWED” – it actually says “YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE THE POOL ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY WHEN THE SUN IS UP”.

Sometimes, then you get an objection, the person actually wants to support, but is afraid to say it outright. That is why he uses buying signals disguised as objections. It is your job as a telephone fundraiser to recognize when an objection actually is a buying signal, and then use the objection as a reason for him to support.


What he says: I support another charity.
What you should hear: I think it is important to support charity.

What he says: I don’t think I can afford it.
What you should hear: I need you to know that I want to support – but I can’t donate (what I think is) a lot of money.

Closing on objections

The coolest way of handling objections is to use the objection as a reason for the person to support.


Him: I support another charity.
You: Sounds great, then you know how important it is to support.

Her: Sorry, I can’t donate I’m too old.
You: Well, I have to admit… must of the people who donate to charity are actually older people. I would think the reason is… when people get older and gain more life experience, they start to realize how important it is to help other people.

The Fast Way

The fast way is actually the most common used, because it is often used many times in a fundraising conversation. Usually you get a lot of small objections in a conversation, so instead of dwelling on them you just give them a fast solution and then move on.

I think the main reason why it works so well is that you avoid talking about the objection too long. Talking about money or administration rate too long kills the good emotions that the person have for the course.

Another reason is that it seems like no big deal. If you talk about it too much, the person starts to get suspicious.

Third reason is; it builds trust. People usually trust people who are decisive and assertive.


Him: Don’t your organization have a high administration rate?
You: We have 9.8 percent. That is very common for charity organizations. (… and then continue what you were talking about)

Her: I’ve heard that you shouldn’t give that kind of information out over the phone.
You: It’s totally safe.

Handle the objection before it arrives


I used this for WSPA to preempt: “I only donate to humans.”
Me: Helping animals is about morality. If we treat the most innocent and helpless creatures this way – then how to we treat humans.

 I used this to preempt: “I can’t afford it, I’m too old.”
Me: … and since a lot of our supporters are older people, we have chosen an amount most people can afford.

At the beginning of the conversation: Talk about the case

If the person says “I can’t afford it” before 30 seconds has passed, it is usually not money that is issue! The problem is that he doesn’t place a very high value on the course. In some polite way you have to start to talk about the course instead on how little money actually is. Remember, people will NOT even spend 1 cent on something they don’t place some emotional value on.

At the end of the conversation: Keep talking

Now say the person places a high emotional value on the course, but don’t want to give his payment information’s over the phone. The absolutely last resort for dealing with this objection (or any objection in the end of the conversation) is to just keep firing solutions for the problem. The good news that it works maybe 50 % of the times (but only if the person places a high emotional value on the course).

More on Handling Objections:

Handling Objections Part 1: Introductions
Handling Objections Part 2: Advanced
Handling Objections Part 3: Writing a Script

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Handling Objections Part 1: Introductions

Here is the method that has helped 1,000’s of telephone fundraisers to overcome objections. This is really “Objections 101” that anyone in sales and fundraising has to know by heart.

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The process

  1. Listen
  2. Sympathize
  3. Solve

Listen: The first part of this process is just keep quiet and let the person talk for a few seconds.

Sympathize: Let the person know that you understand. Don’t overdo this though.

Solve: The person has a problem; it is your job to give the person a solution.


Him: Doesn’t all the money go to administration?
You: Some people believe that. In reality we have 9.8 %, and I don’t think that’s high.

Her: Sorry I don’t have time now.
You: Yeah, we always call doing dinner. :) We can call you another time if you prefer, but it is very important and I promise to be fast.

Her: I can’t afford it.
You: How do you mean?
Her: I just had a big car repair bill this month.
You: I understand. First of all thanks for your interest! We have a good solution; our system is actually so flexible that you can postpone your donation one month. It is very important that we start helping children in Africa as soon as possible, since you are so committed to the course, we really need you as a supporter. Can I write you up now to start next month? If you at any time find out you can’t afford it, it is easy to stop the payment.

Note. That in this you also clarified, thanked, used the case, told the person why SHE should be a supporter, closed and risk minimized.

More on Handling Objections:

Handling Objections Part 1: Introductions
Handling Objections Part 2: Advanced
Handling Objections Part 3: Writing a Script

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Don’t ask for money, ask for help

Here is a quick way to avoid the dreaded question: “do you want do donate X$?” and start gaining more support by using the more friendly and positive question: “do you want to help”.

This is huge! This is the best advice I can give about telephone fundraising … ever.

You don’t ask for money, you ask for help – and then tell the person how he can help (ie. donate).


For busy reader – let me just give you the solution first – and then later explain why it works.


You: It is important that we help as many children as fast as possible and I understand that you agree. Do you want to help poor children in Africa?

Her: Actually … yes I want … how do I do it?

You: We have a good program, we know what to do. We just need resources. Some people are able to donate 20$ a month. Is that feasible for you?

Why it works


  1. People don’t want to give away money, they want to help. This is a way to put the help in focus.
  2. Most people want to help, so you get a yes. See the Yes Latter.
  3. It makes dealing with objections easier.
  4. You put less pressure and guild on the person … pressure and guild are VERY POOR tools for a fundraiser to use.
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1 > 2

Getting people to see the one child in need instead of the millions suffering is one of the most potent tools in your fundraising toolbox.

If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.
Mother Theresa

Think of the two statements:

  1. A four year old girl has fallen down a well, she has no food and she is alone and cold – we should help her.
  2. 30,000,000 children are slowly dying of starvation in Africa – we should help them.

Now, which of the two statements do you think will affect people the most? As you know by now, it is the one child who gets most of the attention.

There has been a lot of speculation why our brain gets numb when we are confronted with the bigger problems – and I must say, I actually don’t know the right answer. I just know that fundraising is about making huge differences in the world – but telling people that they are making a small difference.

So when you are fundraising to save millions, talk about the one child who needs help: “Think about Diana from Congo, she has no parents, she is alone and she is hungry – will you help her and small children like her?”

So that is why 1 is larger than 2.

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.
Joseph Stalin

You should read – The Little Match Girl by H. C. Andersen – and you’ll really see how this works!
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3 Questions You MUST Answer

Every time someone makes a donation, he knows the answer to those 3 questions – every time you get a NO, you have not properly answered the 3 questions for him.

Now what are those mystical questions?


Why me?

Why now?


This is the most obvious question to answer. Most fundraising revolves around the Why. This is where you present your case, talk about those in need of help and talk about how your organization can help resolve the problem.

Usually the objections you get when you haven’t explained the Why good enough:

  • I’m not interested.
  • I give to other charities.

Why Me?

Most people will agree with you that it is important that your organization gets donations – but there can be a long way from “I wish your organization the best of luck” to “Yes, here are my money”.

So you have to make it logical that the person you talk should give – and/or you should make a craving inside the person so he really wants to give. Either way, he knows why HE should give.

It is logical to support a cause that you highly agree with – that is one of the reasons talented fundraisers use partial-acceptance. Do you think it is important that X? Do you think we should stop Y?

Usually the objections you get when you haven’t explained the Why Me good enough:

  • I can’t afford it.
  • I’m too old/young/sick.
  • Other people must do it.
  • I support my own way.

Why Now?

If the person doesn’t understand why he should donate now, he usually won’t donate at all – he will just postpone and procrastinate the decision indefinitely.

Usually the objections you get when you haven’t explained the Why Now good enough:

  • I will donate later.
  • Let me think about it.
  • Can you call later?
  • Can you send me something?
  • Can I donate over the internet?

People hate it when a door closes. It is a very strong psychological thing to say “If you don’t support now, X will happens”. This is used in most commercials as well, think about time limited offers say “Y is on sale this week” – then you’ll conscious or unconscious think – “Well, I have to buy it now, or else I will lose the opportunity”.

Do you always have to explain all 3 on them?

No, it is not YOU who has to explain them – it is the person who has to have the answer for them – sometimes they are self explanatory.

It is usually to skip one of them, but then have a good follow up answer if you get it as an objection.

This post was inspired by: Four Questions to Answer in Every Appeal

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The Importance of Money

The size of the donation is usually the most important aspect of a donation – but time and time again I hear fundraisers downplay the importance of money. This post should hopefully cure you of that bad habit :)

Usually when a fundraiser has had some bad luck in a few hours he starts to get desperate. He starts to down play the importance of money and talks about how cheap it is to support the organization. This is one of the worst think that can happen.

How many times have I heard:

  • You only have to pay X $.
  • You can stop supporting after 1 month.
  • It is not the money that is important, but your support that helps us.

First of all, when a fundraiser downplays the monetary support, he says that the persons sacrifice isn’t that important.

Second and more important, when a fundraiser starts to bargain about how cheap it is to support, he devalue the importance of the organization! This is without doubt one of the worst things a fundraiser can do. Because if people don’t see a cause as important they won’t even donate 1$.

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Getting partial acceptance to your claims will gradually allow you to logically convince the person about your course.

Partial acceptance is a key ingredient in a fundraising conversation, it allows you to logically convince the person and to discover any objections before you ask for support.

Ask for agreement

The most common way is simple to ask people if they agree with you.
  • Don’t you think we should stop X?
  • Will you agree with me that we should fight for Y?
  • How do you feel about Z?

Use a statement

The problem with the ask for agreement is, that it can come on as manipulative or that you are logically forcing them to agree with you. I.e. “don’t you agree that it is bad thing to punch a kitten in the face?”.
To overcome this you can use a statement instead.
  • I hate it when people punch innocent kittens in the face.
  • We should stop the people who punch kittens in the face.
This is usually much stronger and leaves a better impression – but it has to be said with the right voice inflection and with a lot of power

You should read: Using the Yes-Ladder

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Free eBook | Homer Simpson for Nonprofits

Homer Simpsons

The cool guys at Network for Good have put together this totally awesome free eBook.

The eBook gives a short, easy to read and interesting overview of behavioral economics as it applies to fundraising.

To put it another way, it explains why people give and how we can better our communication with potential doners.

Here are what they write themselves:

People make illogical choices all the time. We cave to social norms. We make choices that aren’t good for us. We buckle to authority, even when it doesn’t make sense. We opt for a small, immediate satisfaction instead of big, long-term gain. The list of illogic is long. And it adds up to people making decisions that are often contrary to their own best interests.

For too long, nonprofit marketers and fundraisers have decided how to communicate based on thinking grounded in direct marketing and economics. The problem with this approach is that it assumes people are coolly logical and make their decisions about supporting a cause based on a rational, linear thought process. We’ve laid out the cases for why our causes matter based on facts and numbers.
The problem is most people don’t think like Alan Greenspan. They are more like Homer Simpson — limited in attention, over-endowed with impulse, and ruled by emotion.
Download it here: Homer Simpson for Nonprofits v2 or simply go to there website: Network for Good
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