10 Ways to Use Body Language to Close More Major Gifts

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Image -- Body LanguageAlmost 50 years ago, Albert Mehrabian figured out that our words matter least and our body language matters most in face-to-face communications.
His landmark studies (“Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” and “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”) uncovered what elements you should focus on most for effective communications as follows:

  • Body language
  • Tone of voice 
  • Words = 7%
    Why should you care?

    Donors get clues about the emotional intent behind your words from non-verbal sources (such as body language and voice intonation). If your body language and voice intonation are not aligned with your words, donors believe the body language and voice intonation every time. In other words, it won’t matter what you say if you’re slouching, interrupting, or avoiding eye contact. Your non-verbal mistakes will kill your chances of getting major gifts!

    What’s the MarketSmart takeaway here?  
    I think a lot of fundraisers and nonprofit leaders cower from asking for gifts because they don’t know what to say. So, I’m writing this blog post to tell you not to worry so much about what you’re going to say when you finally get to meet that big donor. Instead, to land more major gifts, you should study and practice the following 10 non-verbal mannerisms that can truly improve your face-to-face effectiveness:

    1. Smile

    2. Mind your manners

    3. Exhibit enthusiasm

    4. Exude confidence

    5. Radiate passion

    6. Ooze empathy

    7. Express gratitude (especially in your facial expressions)

    8. Demonstrate curiosity (with attentiveness)

    9. Mirror your donor’s tone, volume, sitting position, and posture

    10. Smile again and again and again

    Then when you do use words, make sure to use about 1/3 as many as your prospect uses.  You were given two ears and one mouth.  Use them proportionately.


    Related Posts:

    >>How to Use Verbatims and Digital Body Language to Raise More Money
    >>7 Simple Steps to Qualify Your Donors


    5 responses to “10 Ways to Use Body Language to Close More Major Gifts”

    1. Leslie Allen says:

      What a great topic! I would add one more to your list of 10. Lean in. People notice your body language before you even open your mouth and leaning towards your donor or prospect signals that you are really listening.

    2. Greg Warner says:

      Agreed. Thanks for the addition Leslie.

    3. Stacey Lockhart says:

      And eye contact! Look them in the eye when they are talking to you and you to them. You can tell so much by someone’s eyes – if they are excited, if you’ve peaked their interest, if you have touched their heart with a story you share…

    4. Pete Hutton says:

      Sitting on the chair’s edge keeps me from getting too comfortable and remembering I don’t have much time to wander from the reason I’m there.

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