No Means “Not Now, not Never”
As Development officers, we hear “NO”.
A lot actually.
Usually, the “NO” we hear has more to do with being denied the chance to have a conversation or meeting about an impending project or initiative. We call a prospect and hear nothing. We write a prospect, there is no response. A friendly email is sent, met with no return.
It can be deflating.
Remember though, the “NO” we have all experienced is really a way the donor says, either directly or indirectly, “I’m not ready for this discussion or request.” As Development officers, all we can do is continue to advance the mission of the organization we represent and that means respecting the position our donors represent.
So what do you do?
Continue to communicate. Eliminate (for the time being) any financial request and continue to advance information about how the mission is working. Continue to advocate for the clients, students, or audiences you represent through stories that show the mission working.
It’s a lesson we could all learn from Ms. Opal Lee.
Ms. Opal Lee was a driving force to getting the first National Holiday passed since 1983, Juneteenth. She heard NO far too many times to count. She was turned away at the door by legislators, donors, and countless others for well over five decades.
But she was persistent while being respectful. She knew her many audiences needed time. Time to digest what was being advocated for and time to see the impact of celebrating this newly voted upon National Holiday. She didn’t take the many NO’s personally, she just believed in what she was advocating for and never stopped.
As Development officers. Continue to advocate. Continue to communicate. Continue to be patient and yes, give your donors time but never give up on them. Over time, they won’t give up on your either.
- Mike Bruni, Managing Director, HPS Chicago
Are you thinking about DEI?
Is this a topic of conversation at your organization? Or have you shied away from this topic, because you are afraid of saying or doing the "wrong" thing?
Our team started the conversation some time ago, and it has recently become a more integral part of our team meetings. As is evident from our website, our team is comprised of middle-aged white consultants. Like many, we are trying to gain a better understanding of DEI and what it means to each of us, our team, our clients and our community.
We recently met with a DEI consultant, Khalilah Lyons, who is a dynamic and young - yet experienced - leader. We are seeking her guidance in several areas, which includes:
1. Gaining a better understanding of the DEI landscape
2. Finding ways in which we can learn and grow as individuals and as a team
3. Identifying opportunities to be more aware and thoughtful in our approach to the non-profit community and those we serve
Khalilah did not make us feel badly about who and where we are as a team. She simply noted that this is our starting point. This acknowledgement and our collective ability to speak honestly and without fear was a huge relief. With the ability to speak honestly and openly comes trust. And with trust comes progress.
We know this journey will not be easy and it will likely have no "end". But it will be thought-provoking and help us grow in new and interesting ways. I know I speak for each person on the team when I say that we are looking forward to challenging ourselves, expanding our thinking and perspective, and sharing our insights with you. We hope you will join us in this conversation!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.