[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

August 22, 2017

When the Answer is No

imageWe have all experienced it.

You did your research to make sure your project fit the interests of a particular foundation. You developed your "elevator pitch," so you could highlight important aspects of your proposal succinctly during your pre-submit phone call. You prepared a proposal tailored to the interests of the foundation. You included a detailed budget, had co-workers review your proposal for clarity, included all the required attachments and, of course, submitted the proposal on time.

Then, the answer arrives: No.

Now what? Time to send an "even though" letter.

Thank them
Even though you received a no, thank the person who signed the letter for their thoughtful and considerate review of your proposal. If you had any conversations with them during the proposal review process, thank them for being helpful during the preparation of your proposal.

Ask them
Ask if it might be possible to visit about ways you could improve your proposal. Ask any questions you wish you had asked during the process. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the foundation - its giving history and future interests.

Acknowledge them
Mention your appreciation for the generous and helpful support the foundation has provided to other worthy organizations. Take into account the feelings of foundation staff members. They do not enjoy saying no.
As a major philanthropist once said: "Honey (she called everyone honey), why do people treat us like ATM machines? Proposal in, funding out. And when we can't fund their project, they never think about how we feel when the answer has to be no."

When the answer is no, get a personal, genuine "even though" letter in the mail right away. Leave the door open for your next proposal. Next time, the answer may be yes!

Norma Murphy, Executive Vice President (Kansas City) [email protected]


logoJoin Us on the Growing Philanthropy Tour

Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook's mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:

August 23-25, 2017

Top Hands
Boy Scouts of America
Ross Pfannenstiel
Jason Wood
Tammy Weinman

Oklahoma City
August 2017

Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits
Relationship Building: Where Do We Go From Here?
Adrian Sargeant

Rogers, Ark.
September 20, 2017

AFP of Northwest Arkansas
Matthew J. Beem

September 21-22, 2017

Blackbaud Executive Summit, University of London
Adrian Sargeant

Las Vegas
September 26-28, 2017

14th Annual Association of Donor Relations Professionals International Conference
Adrian Sargeant

Quincy, Ill.
October 12, 2017

Tri-State Area Fundraising Professionals Board
Janell Johnson

Scotland, U.K.
October 23-25, 2017

Alan Clayton Associates
Great Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

Kansas City
October 26, 2017

Nonprofit Connect
Building a Culture of Philanthropy
Karin Cox

Wichita, Kan.
November 16, 2017

AFP Greater Wichita Chapter
Supporting Sponsor: Hartsook

Scotland, U.K.
February 7-9, 2018 

Alan Clayton Associates
Great Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

February 28-March 3, 2018

ALDE IGNITE International Conference
Massive Fundraising
Adrian Sargeant

Past Stops on the Tour

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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you'd like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].

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