Recently a friend and I were talking about how to say no when individually approached about giving opportunities. He is a missionary candidate currently raising support, and I am a fundraiser for a University. We have both been told “no” often, sometimes nicely and sometimes not.
In case you ever need it, here are some tips for saying no to giving nicely.
1. Return the phone call/email
My missionary friend told me the most frustrating part of raising support is getting people to return phone calls and emails, sometimes from his own family! I echo his sentiments. I think sometimes we are so afraid of telling someone “no” that it just seems easier to ignore the email or phone call. In reality, this method usually only makes the relationship more awkward. It’s like in Junior High when your girlfriend breaks up with you by ignoring you (was that just me?).
If you are not interested in meeting or giving, use one of these nice rejections:
“Your cause sounds wonderful. I’ll be honest, we are strapped financially right now. I would be more than willing to hear about your cause. Then maybe down the road when we are in a better place we can give.”
“We appreciate your organization. Right now though our giving priorities are our church, our alma mater, and we are also really passionate about cancer research. Sometime in the future we might give to your organization, but right now your cause just doesn’t make the list of what is close to our hearts.”
“I’ll be honest, I did not have a great experience with your organization. I would be willing to tell you about it if you would like, but I think visiting us would not be a fruitful use of your time.”
Feel free to say “no” to the request to visit. The person raising funds doesn’t want to waste your time or theirs. Just be respectful enough to return an email or phone call.
2. Let them know why you can’t give
Many times the ignore method is employed because we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings by telling them why we can’t give. Trust me, fundraisers understand you can’t give to everything.
I actually said “no” to the missionary friend mentioned above when he asked about giving monthly to support them. Here is almost verbatim what I said: “Friend, I would enjoy giving toward one-time expenses but can’t be counted on for ongoing support at this time. Our giving priorities are our church, alma maters, and an organization for which I am on the board. We are also saving any extra income for our upcoming adoption.”
He totally understood and we are still friends.
3. Follow the golden rule
Asking someone else for money is hard. Even after doing this for 6+ years, I still get sweaty palms when it comes to the “ask.” Be gracious and put yourself in the fundraiser’s shoes. They are in a vulnerable spot and your words, even if a “no” is involved, can really make or break their spirits. If you seek to follow the golden rule of treating others like you would like to be treated, then your heart will show, even if you reject the giving opportunity.
While I specifically wrote this for dealing with those who might be doing some form of fundraising, this can apply to almost anyone who is asking you to do something for them.
Question: What are nice ways you have said “no”? What are “not nice” ways you have been told “no” by someone else?