How to Open a Fundraising Conversation

The opener is the short conversation from the time the person says “Hallo” to the time you start making the case(a link is coming). A good opener can IMO actually double your cold calling success.

Open Door

I once conducted a semi-scientific test, where it showed that a bad opener would open about 20% of all conversations and a good opener would open about 70%. And that a good opener can actually double your hit rate.  NOTE: if you have a hit rate of 0,4 members an hour (m/h) with a bad opener you can get to 0,8 m/h, but if you make 0 m/h, you will still get 0 m/h.

The objectives of an opener

The main objective MO of the opener is to get the person to pay attention to your case(a link is coming). The case is the foundation of all fundraising. The main reason a person donate is because of your case. So the correlation between how many people who hears your case and your success is obvious.

Other objectives can be:

  • Get a positive impression of the organisation.
  • Make yourself seem important.
  • Take control of the conversation(a link is coming).
  • Qualify the person(a link is coming).

The tools to open

First and foremost, your opener must be a pattern interrupt! The person is not waiting for you to call, he is preoccupied in his own thoughts so you have to break him of his current pattern. Please read about Pattern Interrupt.

Speak loud and clear.

Ask a few questions.

Don’t ask for permission to talk. You will rarely get a yes – and it devalue your cause.

Your energy level should be slightly higher than his.

Practice. It is very important that you don’t make any speaking errors in the first 30 seconds.

And remember test, test, test. How to open is very different from cause to cause, from person to person and from fundraiser to fundraiser.

The best I’ve ever used

Here is the best I’ve ever used:

Hi, this is Martin from X, the worlds largest organisation who stops Y (where Y is a very emotional hot button).

I assume you are familiar with our work.?

A site note to this opener. Note that I use the frase “the worlds largest organisation who …”. A good fundraiser knows that you should only present one, max. two, cases! The reason is that you want an emotional respond, not a logical one. If you overwhelm the person with logical facts, he can logically see that it is a good cause, but he has no emotions attached to the cause, so he places no value on it – and hence he will not donate. By saying “the worlds largest” you have gotten the fact out, that the organisation, does a lot more than precented in the case – and you can comfortable focus on a single emotional case without running into the objection(a link is coming) “Is that all you do?”.

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