Fundraising can be challenging. Receiving a “no” can be discouraging to nonprofit leaders, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the end. There are ways for overcoming “no.”
A donor may say “no” today or to a project, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “no” forever. And it doesn’t say something negative about you as a fundraiser.
Chances are good that it has nothing to do with you. It could be related to a divorce, illness of a family member, financial responsibility that’s limiting someone’s capacity at the moment, or other commitments previously made.
Here are some tips for overcoming a “no” in nonprofit fundraising:
- Focus on relationship building: If someone says “no” to your request for a donation, don’t give up on the relationship. Thank them for their time and interest in your organization and continue to stay in touch. Engage them in other ways, such as inviting them to events or sending them updates on your organization’s work.
- Be persistent: Respect their decision, and don’t be afraid to follow up. Sometimes people need a little extra push or another type of motivation to make a donation. There may be another project that interests them. Aim for pleasant persistence.
- Provide more information: Sometimes donors say “no” because they don’t fully understand the goals or the impact of your organization’s work. Provide them with additional information about your mission, programs, and outcomes. Look for areas where your programs intersect with their personal interests and life history. Share stories of impact on the people that have been positively affected by your work.
- Offer alternative ways to support: If a donor says “no” to a specific request, offer alternative ways for them to support your organization. This might be volunteering, sharing a message on social media, inviting friends to an event, advocating publicly for your organization, or making a smaller donation that fits their budget.
- Learn from the experience: Use the “no” as an opportunity to learn and improve your fundraising efforts. Ask for feedback on why they said “no” and how you can improve your approach in the future. Ask if it’s the project, the timing, the use of funds, or something else that prevents them from saying “yes.” Use this feedback to try new strategies and approaches.
- Keep moving forward: Try not to wallow and obsess about the “no” and maintain a positive outlook. Keep things in perspective. Let the “no” be nothing more than a little speed bump on your journey. Use the experience to grow and learn how you can be even more effective and improve your skills of connecting with donors.
A “no” from a donor might be a momentary disappointment, but it doesn’t have to get you down if you follow these tips.
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