That constant stream of people saying “no” when you’re looking for support can really take its toll on a fundraiser. It’s hard to separate that it’s the ‘cause’ they’re saying “no” to and not you as an individual.

When working with telephone fundraisers I used to suggest they celebrate each “no” they got, as it was getting them closer the “YES”.

If you’re getting lots of “No’s” it could be that they don’t know your organisation, or that the person you’re talking to has other commitments – neither of these reasons for them not giving – for them not saying “Yes” has anything to do with you as a person. It’s all about the information they are being given, it’s about your organisation they may have questions about – and nothing about you.

In order to get the best out of your ‘pitch’ for support, you need to go into the process full prepared; knowing:

  • Why you’re making the approach
  • Who benefits
  • What it costs to run the programme/service you provide
  • How their contribution will help make a difference

If you go into a fundraising pitch without all the necessary information, without the ability to answer the questions; you’re not likely to get many people saying “yes”.

When you get a “no” ask why? By asking you will be able to find out the real reason people aren’t supporting. Perhaps it’s the wrong time of the year, the cause (as explained) hasn’t ‘grabbed’ them, maybe it’s simply the wrong time to be asking – that time of day. I doubt very much anyone will tell you “I didn’t like you” or “I won’t help because of you” – it will always because of something external. 

Whatever it is, make use of the feedback you get for the reason they’re not supporting help build a stronger case with your next call. 

The next time you pick up the phone, write a letter or complete an application form, make sure you’re giving all the possible information; and if you get a rejection – take it on the chin; it’s not you they’re saying no to – it’s the cause, the organisation or simply that they need more information to make an informed decision to support. 


© Charles Shapiro |


2 thoughts on “It’s not you they’re turning down

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