NO: It’s Not a Dirty Word

by | Mar 18, 2014

It’s Not a Dirty Word

“No, I can’t do that for you.”

“No, I don’t have the time.”

“No, I’m not really interested.”

In a fundraising context, “no” can strike right at the heart of any development professional. Unfortunately, myths about what “no” really means abound, so we’ve sorted out fact from fiction to prove that “no” really isn’t a dirty word.

MYTH #1: A specific objection means “no” to giving in general.

FACT: It’s funny how our minds can interpret meanings behind what is said and not said. You might be tempted to interpret a nervous hesitation as a “no,” but you shouldn’t hear “no” unless your prospect specifically states so.

Even if a prospect says the word “no,” remember that he or she is not saying “no” to giving in general, but perhaps “no” to the giving amount.

What should you do? Use the opportunity to suggest an amount less than the ask amount. Share the importance of participation by emphasizing that all gifts of any size matter, or allow your prospect to suggest an amount he or she would be comfortable giving.

MYTH #2: “No” means the end of a relationship you’re trying to cultivate.

FACT: Remember the reason why you contacted the individual in the first place. People find it necessary—even convenient—to say “no” for many reasons. They’re all very good reasons to them and they should be good reasons to you, too.

Regardless of the reason they declined your request, don’t take a “no” personally. And don’t let it discourage you from trying to establish a relationship with the individual or in future follow up, either. That personal contact you have may ensure that the individual will give a gift in the future.

If your prospect shares a specific reason why he or she will not support your campaign or cause, such as a disagreement about a policy of your organization, listen to the best of your ability and either respond (if you’re in the position to do so) or ask an appropriate member of your development team to contact the individual.

MYTH #3: “No” means the person probably isn’t interested in making any future gifts.

FACT: Each person has a specific reason why he or she cannot give right now, but “no” doesn’t mean they won’t ever consider your cause or campaign in the future. Whether your development campaign is just beginning—or whether you’re in the remaining months—remind your prospect that every gift, no matter how small or large, counts. Offer to contact them at a mutually agreeable time in the future, then follow through on your words!

Just remember that no one enjoys receiving a rejection. It’s what you do with the “no” that makes the difference!

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