Rejection: A Lesson in Fundraising Resiliency

10/07/2014 at 10:38 Leave a comment


This conversation about donors saying “No”, rejection and resiliency, started when I saw the TedXBarnard given by Barbara Corcoran of NYC real estate and Shark Tank fame.

I shared with a few colleagues. It’s worth watching the whole 14 minutes.

Wendy Buntin, Regional Chief Development Officer at the American Red Cross Tennessee Volunteer region in Nashville and I talked about the video and fundraising. Here’s my take on Wendy’s sage advice and need I say she and her team are rock star fundraisers?

Rejection is part of every fundraiser’s repertoire – as Barbara says, how we “bounce back” or move on is the difference between being a good to great fundraiser. Fundraising practice says a rejection or decline can have many reasons:

  • No – not now (waiting for my tax return/bonus/promotion)
  • No – not in that way (cash/stock/family foundation)
  • No – I need think about it (different approach needed)
  • No – I need to talk to someone else (spouse/partner/financial advisor)

Wendy BuntinWendy says,

Just because a donor or prospect says “no” doesn’t mean we walk away from them. I talk with my development team members after a donor meeting that didn’t go as expected. I want to be sure they know this “no” is a learning opportunity. The donor or prospect may have been sending another message.  The question is did we hear them?

So we try to determine what do we now KNOW from the NO?

  • What did you learn about the donor/prospect during your meeting?
  • Do you think this was the right time to ask the donor?
  • What did the donor/prospect share with you about the Red Cross work and mission?
  • Did they talk about timing, personal or professional challenges or other organizations they support?
  • Do you think you should follow up, continue to cultivate or inactivate this prospect/donor in your portfolio? Sometimes, it’s just time to move on.

Remember, any donor/prospect visit or call offers an opportunity to learn more about their interest and commitment to your mission. Even a “no” provides information on donor intent and interest.

Entry filed under: Fundraising, Nonprofit fundraising, Resources You Can Use!, Storytelling. Tags: , , .

Heart Seth Godin – Fundraisers Anthem Direct Response and American Cancer Society

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