I just finished writing my latest “Question Marc” column for FundRaising Success magazine answering a question from “Panicked in Pasadena.”

Panicked was that way because donors weren’t responding to her solicitations. Can you relate?

We stop too soon

One of the tips I wrote about in the article was this: grab a list of all your assignments and list out the date they told you “non”. Can you do it?

As fundraisers and nonprofit leaders, we tend to give up too quickly. We tend to attempt a solicitation – or even have a meeting and attempt follow up – but get no response from the donor. Rather than persisting until they tell us “no” (or “yes”!), we fill in the silence with our own narrative. “They must not want to give this year.” “They must not like us anymore.” “This isn’t a good time for them.”

Unless the donor hasn’t told us now isn’t a good time, how dare we rob her of the opportunity to invest in her values! (Click here to tweet that.)

Learning to “Go for No!”

Next month’s training for members of The Nonprofit Academy will get a full webinar from Andrea Waltz, one of the authors of Go for No! – Yes is the Destination; No is How You Get There. Her book has transformed fundraising for many of my clients.

Here are a couple benefits from going for “no”:

  1. Going for no helps you respect donors

    Donors’ worlds don’t revolve around our nonprofit, so often they need more communication than we are comfortable giving. In a recent blog post, the Veritus Group talks about needing to try 6-7 times to connect with a donor! We usually give up after 3 or 4, don’t we. Or 2!

    If we stop attempting, we’re really making a giving decision for the donor. We wouldn’t pull out a donor’s checkbook and write the check for them. Why would we preemptively tell a donor they don’t really want to give to us? Especially if we’ve already received indications that our cause fits their values?

    We need to respect the donor enough to let them say no themselves.

  2. Going for no keeps us going when we’re “hot”

    One of the key lessons in Go for No! is that most average fundraisers stop after getting a “yes.” Above average fundraisers keep on going until the get “no’s.” (The authors of the book write about salespeople but it’s the same here with fundraisers.) Often, when we have a great solicitation, we simply stop. Have you noticed how much easier it is to ask for a gift after you’ve just received one? Use that momentum! Go on to the next solicitation, or call to schedule one!

Preparing for year-end giving

Look back at your list. If you can’t put a date for when a donor told you “no,” get out there this week and ask them. Follow up in various ways: a call this week, an email or text the next, a note the third. Mixing it up will help you find the way to best communicate with your individual donors.

And it will help you reach your fundraising goals!!

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