Rejection in fundraising, why hearing ‘no’ is a blessing…

Rejection in fundraising is common across all types of fundraising and is something even the very best, most experienced fundraisers deal with regularly.  There are many reasons though why hearing ‘no’ is actually a blessing.

Following my recent post on fundraising KPI’s, many of you got in touch to say how much you enjoyed my theory on being rejection in fundraising and in particular, in the wild world of trusts and foundations.

I believe that volume* matters in trust fundraising and that if you’re not receiving plenty of rejections, then you’re not sending out enough applications.

*though to be clear, I’m talking about volume of qualified, realistic, well-researched prospects and am very much an advocate of quality over quantity.

This is especially true in the early days when you’re building relationships.

A reader got in touch last week to make the point that even though she recognises that it’s normal, being turned down can feel demoralising, disappointing and impacts on your resilience.  This is especially true if you’re a sole fundraiser.  I completely agree, it can be really hard.

But I truly believe that hearing ‘no’ and then labelling a trust or foundation as ‘not a prospect’ should not be seen as a disappointment, but as a blessing.

Maybe we could shift our mindset to view it as a positive for the following reasons:

  • You are freeing up your time to focus on those with whom you might have an actual chance of securing funding from.
  • You are freeing up that prospect for the benefit of another charity.
  • You are contributing to the improvement of the overall reputation of the fundraising profession by doing things properly and not making us all look collectively rubbish.

The screening process designed to tempt you away from ‘spray and pray’ tactics should free you up to focus more of your time and energy on those who are ticking research boxes in your ‘go for it’ list.

Congratulations! You have now been gifted with more focus and critically, more time in which to nail this.

If the average hit rate for cold approaches is 1 in 12 and warm is 1 in 3 then hearing no is a blessing because it will improve your hit rate and give you the time you need to focus on those who are genuinely interested in and supportive of your cause.

This short but sweet post is here to remind you that a productive trust fundraiser should be receiving a steady stream of gifts and an even steadier stream of rejections, and that rejection in fundraising, whilst hard to stomach, will ultimately help us to hone our craft so that those ‘no’s’ gradually become ‘yeses’.

Thanks for reading!


p.s. Trust the Process is our online training course.  It contains everything you need to know about how to do trust fundraising really well (plus several effective little tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years).

Click here to find out more and to sign up for updates on the next launch.

Posted in Fundraising, Trust fundraising.