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  • Writer's pictureThe MSG Team


One of the most under the radar films of all time, which ended up being a cult classic, was the title "Galaxy Quest". The movie not only stars some big names but had a popular tongue in cheek quote said throughout the film . . . "Never give up . . . never surrender".

As you can imagine, the quote was used whenever the "Spoofed Star Trek" squad would come across a tough situation . . . in dire need . . . and ready to give up. Then the mighty captain would bellow out the phrase in order to get the crew pumped up and ready to go.

How much I wish Executive Directors of nonprofits would use this phrase when talking to themselves in the mirror or motivating their Resource Development team.

As you can imagine, at MSG, we work with a LOT of nonprofits. So often we hear fundraisers say that they are not going to approach a potential donor because they said NO once before. WHAT?!?!?!? Because they said NO once before???

Look folks, if fundraising was easy, everyone would be doing it but it's not. We say it all the time to our nonprofit clients . . . sales is sales. When is the last time a sales person at a clothing store didn't offer another option if you didn't like the first? When did a banker stop trying to meet with you after you said no the first time? These folks don't stop after just one NO. So here are the five tips we have for you in regards to folks who may tell you NO:

1) Maybe you need to try another fit and THEN let the opportunity grow. Maybe the potential donor can't do $5,000 now but down the road can you start them out with a lower amount? Would they be willing to volunteer for an hour? Would they be willing to sit on a committee? Can you invite to a fundraising event down the road? Can their company employees volunteer? Would they be willing to meet with you in a few months when it is less busy? Do you need to get a board member involved who might know that person better? Whatever you do, don't just toss that name in the trash right away.

2) A win is a win . . . no matter the size. Celebrate that. Sure you asked for $5,000 and they said NO. However a few months later you went back and asked that same person to volunteer for an hour at your food pantry. That's a win. Who knows what could happen from there. Rome wasn't built in a day . . . or so they say.

3) Never give up . . . never surrender . . . but also be aware of the relationship. The old adage is that people will say NO 3 times, until they REALLY mean it. For some yes, for others no, there is no exact science. However good fundraisers have the ability to be persistent but have enough savvy to know when to stop. Having perseverance is one thing . . . annoying someone is another. So try to get a good feel for things.

4) Finally, and we say this all the time . . . be authentic. It's great to invite people to things, to say nice things to them, to offer to have coffee with them, etc. However just make sure if you are wanting to build a relationship with someone, that you do it authentically. If you are being nice to a person JUST to get their dollar, you both are going to be left disappointed. Imagine a restaurant owner who ONLY was nice to you, in order to get you to eat at their place, but they don't give you the time of day when you choose to eat somewhere else. Does that sound like a friend you want to have? Probably not, so keep that in mind in regards to how you treat people in your community.

5) Similar to #4 . . . don't base your relationship with someone in connection to how much they may have donated. Enough said.

Follow these five tips and we can promise you that SOME of those NO answers, will turn into YES answers down the road. NEVER GIVE UP . . . NEVER SURRENDER.


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