If you’ve ever worked for a non-profit, you know how rewarding yet challenging fundraising can be. Non-profits depend on donations, events, auctions, etc. in order to advance their cause and continue the work that they do. But sometimes, inspiring people to dig into their pockets is like nailing jelly to a wall. 

But what if it didn’t have to be so challenging? I had an experience recently where one simple sentence changed how I see fundraising efforts, and even sales.

Another Day, Another Ask 

At least once in your life, you’ve probably made a donation through a non-profit’s partnership with a retail store. You know, like the times you’ve gone to Walgreens or Macy’s and after ringing up your items, the cashier asks “Would you like to make a donation to (insert organization here)?” 

I’m a bit of a shopaholic, so this has happened to me countless times. Depending on the day, my mood, and the cause, I will make a donation. Admittedly, I’ve declined to donate on many occasions… but not yesterday.

Yesterday, I went shopping at Marshalls to shop for, well, nothing specific… (ladies, can you relate?). I ended up finding a few tops I liked, along with some stationery I had to add to my collection. 

I proceeded to the checkout area and was summoned over to “cashier number three, please.” According to her name badge, her name was Paulette. 

After admiring the tops I’d chosen, removing the anti-theft devices, and ringing up the stationery, Paulette told me my total. As I dug through my purse to grab my credit card, she asked me the following question:

Would you be kind enough to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation?

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure I was in the most generous mood that day. I barely even caught the name of the organization as I was fumbling for my wallet, so I was preparing myself to immediately dismiss Paulette’s request with a polite “no, thank you.”

And then I paused for a moment and carefully reconsidered the words she used when she asked me this question.

Would I be kind enough to donate?

Suddenly, my initially intended response of “no” had new meaning. Replying “no” wouldn’t indicate that I simply wasn’t interested. “No” would be an admission to myself and Paulette that I am not kind. 

And well, I like to think that to be far from the truth. I consider myself a kind person, and in that moment, I couldn’t imagine letting Paulette, a practical stranger, think otherwise. 

“Yes,” I replied. Feeling a little bamboozled yet fulfilled, I inserted my credit card into the chip reader, which now reflected my revised total. 

Since then, I’ve thought about Paulette’s brilliant way with words. Her question wasn’t promotional, it was personal. That small difference inspired me to act.

How to Strengthen Your Sales Proposition

This experience made me think of all the times anyone in sales or marketing failed to make an impression on me. Undoubtedly, Paulette’s strategic verbiage can help non-profits go for the ask, but we can also apply it to other calls-to-action across a variety of industries. 

Would you be kind enough to . . . 

  • Provide me with your email address so I can send you updates and discounts?
  • Let me follow up with you next week to hear what you think?
  • Spare 20 minutes of your time so I can tell you why you’ll love _____?
  • Subscribe to my channel so I can share more helpful videos with you? 
  • Try our free software that will help you ______?
  • Leave a review on our Yelp page about your experience?
  • Join us for our networking panel? 

What is an example relevant to your field? Fill in your own blank. Would you be kind enough to ________?

Stop Chasing Leads, Start Changing Your Message

As you can see, Paulette’s words made a difference. I’m not sure if she was trained to phrase her question that way, or if she’s just a natural sales ninja. 

But what I do know is that companies should spend less time chasing down leads, followers, subscribers, etc. and more time enhancing the way their teams and marketing messages communicate.

If someone isn’t compelled to donate, buy, subscribe, or take whatever action you’re hoping for, look in the mirror. Ask yourself how you can communicate differently to connect with your audience. 

In Paulette’s case, all it took were six simple words. 

Remember, the right words cost you nothing.  

Now, would you be kind enough to sign up for your free action verbs cheat sheet below? See what I did there…