Giving Compass’ Take:
• Foundation Source shares tips to help funders decline donation requests in a direct manner while still being respectful to grantseekers.
• Even if a funder declines a grantseeker’s request, how else can they provide support?
• Read more about exploring power and privilege in the funding landscape.
People sometimes compare the foundation/grantseeker courtship to the dating process: Funders and grantseekers are looking to find each other and build long-term relationships. Sometimes the chemistry is there; other times it isn’t. Rejection is an inevitable part of this process so learning to say no, politely and confidently, is an essential skill.
Here are some of their tips for delivering that message, whether by letter or in a one-on-one conversation.
- Be Direct: Rather than waiting until you get a follow-up call or are cornered at an event, take the initiative and reply immediately to the individual requesting the support.
- Explain (But Not Too Much): There is a natural tendency for funders to want to explain the decision not to make a gift, as well as a tendency for grantseekers to want an explanation. However, saying too much can have unintended consequences and send mixed messages.
- Listen and Validate: People tend to accept rejection more readily if they feel that they have been heard and understood. Sometimes, listening to a ”pitch” patiently and compassionately, even though you have little interest, allows the grantseeker the satisfaction of knowing that they have made their best case to you.
- Use Your Mission Statement as a Buffer: Foundation boards adopt mission statements and develop guidelines for their funding areas to communicate to grantseekers, peers, and the general public.
- Be Firm: It is important for funders to choose their words carefully because the person you’re addressing is likely to be looking for any sign, however small, that the door is open for future support.
- Issue a Partial Decline: There may be times when you want to say “no” to a request for funding, yet still offer some other kind of support.
Read the full article about how funders can say no to donation requests from Foundation Source at Exponent Philanthropy.
Since you are interested in Funding, have you read these selections from Giving Compass related to impact giving and Funding?
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