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Why Your Donors Say "No" and What to Do About It

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

No wayJedi and their apprentices are shown practicing throughout the Star Wars series. And that’s no surprise because everyone knows that practice makes perfect. Deep down, you know that becoming a “Jedi Master” at anything requires practice. Great sales people, great athletes, great surgeons… anyone great… yes, great fundraisers too… needs to practice.
 
So, what does practice mean when it comes to fundraising?
For starters, you need to outline why people say “no.” I provided a list below. But then comes the hard part. You need to write down what you should say and do when each instance arises to improve your batting average. And finally, you should refer to your list frequently and practice your responses.
 
To help you get started, here’s why people say “no”:
 

  1. The donor feels unsure about your cause, or your organization, or the project you are proposing, or the amount requested, or the timing
  2. The donor just isn’t interested in what you are proposing
  3. The donor says you are asking for too much
  4. The donor says you are asking for too little
  5. The donor tells you your timing is off
  6. The donor and you don’t mix
  7. The donor is asking what you did with the money and stating that no more is coming until she has your answer
  8. The donor has someone else holding you up or blocking progress (a wife, husband, child, parent, etc.)
  9. The donor is simply not interested anymore… convinced that your cause is not worthy of support

 

One thing I’d like to add is that sometimes you don’t need to question why you got a “no”. There are some times that you will never know the true reason. When that happens, just count it as a positive step forward (because it’s a numbers game) and move on. No reason to over-analyze every single thing but you should analyze almost everything.

Note: I have to give credit to Marc Pitman for inspiring this list (although I actually found it provided on the Veritus Group blog)

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8 responses to “Why Your Donors Say "No" and What to Do About It”

  1. Leah says:

    Thanks for another great post Greg! I always turn to Jerold Panas’ Book Asking when I’m about to make donor visits. He outlines questions and responses to ‘no’.

  2. Leah says:

    Thanks for another great post Greg! I always turn to Jerold Panas’ Book Asking when I’m about to make donor visits. He outlines questions and responses to ‘no’.

  3. and so often it really just means “not right now”….or at least I consider it to mean that….and then work to get to know the donors much better….before I ask again. Thanks for the thoughts, Greg!

  4. and so often it really just means “not right now”….or at least I consider it to mean that….and then work to get to know the donors much better….before I ask again. Thanks for the thoughts, Greg!

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