7th February 2016Alistair Lomax
What happens when it’s a NO?
In our course the other day – The Foundations in Philanthropy – we talked about how to cope with rejection. There is enough of this when you are raising big gifts. I wanted to share a further thought about this: there is a process and it feels like the grief cycle.
There is so much build up in the courtship towards a major gift that the rejection ‘NO’ can seem like a painful loss. What happens next is like a process of grieving. The more lengthy the courtship and the bigger the gift then the more feelings of grief.
Denial: this can’t really be true. What if we just changed the plans or asked for less money? It was so nearly in the bag
Anger: but look at everything that we’ve done. How could they be so ungrateful? If only the others had done more.
Negotiation or argument: the other people who delayed a crucial part are to blame. If only the Chairman hadn’t been tactless over dinner. The planning department is really terrible and everyone needs to be fired. The architect was late and that made us look terrible.
Sadness: they were really so much part of the discussions that it’s really sad that they won’t be around. The big campaign/ building that they were going to fund was going to be so great. Feel sad.
Acceptance: Actually it’s ok. Life goes on. There could also be two other people who might be interested.
So what can we do?
There could be some things within the team or charity that are done to help with this process. We probably all do them informally, but it might be helpful to make sure that you are able to give time and develop a bit of a process:
- Stick together
- Acknowledge how hard it is
- Keep feeding the pipeline so that you are not too reliant on one prospect
- Talk about it openly and talk about feelings
- Have a lessons learnt session with all those involved (except of course the ex prospect)
- Reflect on the process and how it made you feel at each stage
- Move on
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