Why You Shouldn’t Take It Personally When a Donor Says “No”

What to do when the donor says no?Asking someone for money feels very personal. You spend a lot of time preparing a fundraising plan, getting the courage to put yourself in this strange position and making the call to get the appointment. Sometimes you have to call more than once. You know that during the face-to-face solicitation, you will be reading non-verbal signs and considering how to best steer the conversation towards an ask. Then, you have to make an ask for a meaningful gift- often explaining what a meaningful gift is and why it will give them great joy to give.

The prospective donor just has to decide whether they feel it is the right gift for them at this time.

You can certainly improve your chances of success by making the right ask at the right time in the right way for the right amount (and the opposite can also be said of decreasing the amount). However, in the end, the amount they give will not be based on you as a person. At times it will be determined before you even step into the room, which makes it even less about you as a solicitor.

Your skills can encourage the prospect to increase, reconsider or discuss their decision more with their spouse, but the amount they ultimately give is not based on whether they like you as a person. In fact, they would not have taken the meeting if they didn’t like you. If their gift is not what you asked for, they might even feel bad that it cannot be more – because they like you.

Your job will then be to ensure they feel amazing about the gift they did give. Because giving is personal.  That gift was the donor’s personal choice, about their personal capacity to give, and their personal connection to the nonprofit.

So, you can’t take it personally when a donor says “no.” What you can do is work to turn it into a “not at this time,” leaving the door open for future gifts. And leave them feeling good about their interaction with the organization. You may be disappointed that you did not get the gift you were hoping for, but do not take it personally.

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