She was really ticked off because they wouldn’t accept her gift.
One of my customers got the following response to a survey request:
“Why on earth would I respond to this survey when the gift of property I offered to the university was declined (which I sold within the year for $150,000.00). In my opinion your refusal speaks to the shortsightedness and ineptness of those who review such proposed gifts.”
That led me to wonder, what is the cost of declining a gift you don’t want to (or can’t) accept?
The point here isn’t whether or not you should accept certain gifts, it’s how you should go about treating the donor as you decline them.
Nonprofits need to consider the cost of making a donor angry. They need to recognize that there are repercussions for treating a donor poorly.
It’s not about whether or not you should accept certain gifts, it’s how you should go about treating the donor as you decline them.
Here are 7 ways to let ’em down easy so you still maintain a relationship that might lead to future giving:
1- Be gracious. Thank the donor profusely. Tell them how amazing they are for wanting to make a gift.
2- Be apologetic. Let them know that you are truly very, very sorry that you cannot accept their gift.
3- Be empathetic. Say, “I really wish I could help. I don’t really always agree with these policies.”
4- Be clear and honest. Tell them exactly why you can’t help. “Here’s why we can’t accept the gift at this time.”
5- Tell a story. Use storytelling to exhibit what happened that led the organization to decide not to accept certain gifts.
6- Explain how the gift could actually harm the mission. Donors don’t want to unintentionally do more harm than good. So, if you detail what it would cost the organization or how it would harm it to accept the gift, the donor will be more likely to understand the reasoning.
7- Help them achieve their goals. Refer them to an organization that will accept their gift.
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