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
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