I have been approached by a ‘Major Gifts Manager’ for advice, who has received a high number of rejections from his donors in the past few months. As always, I love to help my fellow fundraising professionals in any capacity I can, as I believe that we are all working for a common goal, ”changing people’s lives for good”. So my advice was very simple:
”It’s okay to receive rejections from your donors.”
I understand there’s nothing more depressing for fundraisers’ than when they hear donors say “No” or “I’m not sure”. As fundraisers, we have financial targets to support our good work. We think our time and effort is wasted if our relationships with the donors don’t translate into financial terms. But consider this, we are not just working on ‘Transactional Relationships’ where people just give you money and forget about you. We want ‘Transformational Relationships’ with our donors, we want people to buy into our “cause” and our “vision”. We are not only aiming to change the lives of our beneficiaries, we are also aiming to have an impact on our donors’ lives too. We want them to feel good, enriched and to make them feel like achievers by becoming part of the ‘solution’ for the ‘problems’ they care for. Once, you take them on this journey, not only they will donate you more but they become your “Brand Ambassadors” and this is a stage which every major gifts fundraiser prays for. These donors allow you to break into their networks and find more “MONEY”. So when every time you hear “NO” from your donor, keep reminding yourself below three points:
1. “No” – for now, not forever
It’s “No” for now, not forever. Go back and seek the advice of your seniors and tailor your communication. As every major donor is unique and has different expectations and needs, so try to look into your plan and figure out how you can improve your approach next time.
2. Remember your beneficiaries
If you feel down after getting rejected from your donors, this is a time to reflect and remind yourself that you were not asking for money for yourself. You were asking for money for your beneficiaries (in my case, Orphans), for those kids who have no one, who are orphans, who go to sleep hungry on the streets. Giving up on your donors means you have disappointed those homeless orphans in the streets.
3. You can do it
It’s not just you, there are many other fundraisers are facing the same challenge, so don’t let the rejections undermine your confidence and effectiveness. Keep yourself surrounded by positive energy. You have received money from many other donors, reflect on what was different this time which you think might not have worked.