Reading your Donor’s Body Language: 4 Hints they Might be Sending

When you think about body language, there’s so much that goes into it! So many things to notice that we might not even know where to start.


What does THIS posture say?

Crossed arms, looking to the left, leaning back

The donor does not want to talk to you, doesn’t agree with what you’re saying, or wants to get out of there.

This posture, and the one below, are typical of “Defending from attack”

The basic defensive body language has a primitive basis and assumes that the other person will physically attack, even when this is highly unlikely.

People will cover vital organs and points of vulnerability

In physical defense, the defensive person will automatically tend to cover those parts of the body that could damaged by an attack.

The chin is held down, covering the neck. The groin is protected with knees together, crossed legs or covering with hands. The arms may be held across the chest or face.


Looking down, Crossed legs can indicate fending off:

Fending off

Arms may be held out to fend off attacker, possibly straight out or curved to deflect incoming attacks.

Donor is shielding themselves from you


Hands clasped in front of them, gazing down, protecting the groin. They feel defensive

Donor wants you to step away. So back up!


Leaning forward, gazing at your face

Donor is interested in what you’re talking about

If you’d like to convince donors to give to you with your own body language, check out this article, excerpted below:

Match and move

Start off largely reflecting them back, for example by matching body language and using similar verbal style, in order to create an emotional bond with them. Keep your body at the same level as them, for example standing up to greet them and sitting at the same time (not slumping below them).

Then move or speak differently. If they have bonded with you, then they will now be following you, rather than you following them. If they do not do so, then keep matching and moving until they do. Do not move to closure until they are following you.

Lean in

When you lean in towards the customer, you are getting closer to them, creating a bond. There is a danger here in that the person may consider it an invasion of their personal body space, so still treat distance with care until you have their confidence. Leaning in, rather than moving in, is a tentative action and hence is more acceptable.

Leaning in can be conspiratorial when the sales person lowers their voice, as if making this exclusive offer in a way that cannot be heard by their boss or other customers (who would of course snap it up immediately).

Leaning also lowers the body and is a subtle bow, showing respect and deference, hence taking the sting out of any perception of dominance.

Want to read more about how to use your body language to convince donors to donate?

Here are some more tips to read your donor’s body language: From Wikihow

Posted in