Posts tagged ‘rejection’

June 8, 2018

Ouch! How to Take the Sting Out of Rejection.

Rejection stings. When a donor refuses our warm invitation to meet, it bothers us. When a prospect refuses to donate in response to our carefully crafted appeal, it frustrates us.

While no one enjoys rejection, we tend not to think about it too much. After all, every fundraising professional has to cope with it, some more than others. However, ignoring rejection or simply accepting it as a fact of life does nothing to address its corrosive effect on fundraising efforts.

We can do better. We need to do better.

If rejection diminishes your mood and energy, your chance of success during your next prospect or donor contact will likewise be diminished. Another rejection would further erode your spirit and begin a downward spiral as your confidence continues to erode.

If we can short-circuit the negative effect of rejection, we’ll have a more positive attitude and be able to raise more money. We’ll have more energy and more confidence. So, what can we do to develop a healthy mindset toward rejection?

Years ago, I learned a terrific technique from sales expert Tom Hopkins. Before I share Hopkins’ approach, I want to lay out five assumptions:

 

  1. I assume you will always prepare before contacting a prospect or donor so you can do the best possible job.
  2. I assume that your intention with every contact will be to get a “yes.”
  3. I assume you know that you will not get a “yes” all of the time.
  4. I assume you recognize that, sometimes, a prospect or donor will say “no” for reasons that have nothing to do with you or your organization.
  5. I assume you can recognize what prospects or donors really mean when they say “no.” To make sure you really understand what “no” means and how to deal with each different meaning, checkout the guest post from fundraising consultant and author Bernard Ross, “Overcoming the 9 Fundraising NOs.”

With those assumptions in mind, let’s look at what you can do to take the sting out of rejection. Simply put, you need to decide in advance how to react when you don’t get a “yes.” In other words, how will you react when you don’t get the appointment, don’t close the donation, don’t secure a new volunteer, etc.?

Here is what Hopkins suggests for sales professionals that we can borrow:

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September 2, 2016

Let a 12-Year-Old Competitive Chef Show You the Way

The fundraising profession is not for the faint-of-heart. Ours is a field full of rejection. Every time we ask for a donation, we know there is an excellent chance we will hear, “No!” Even when we receive a positive response, it might not be quite as positive as we had hoped.

A fundraiser who has not learned how to deal with rejection, obstacles, and defeat is a person who is destined to burnout, who will become reticent to ask, who will ultimately fail at the job.

One of the greatest skills a development professional must learn is how to cope with inevitable rejection.

The Screaming Man by Walt Jabsco via FlickrI once attended a seminar led by sales-guru Tom Hopkins. He told us not be disheartened when receiving a rejection. Instead, he told us to celebrate the rejection because it brings us one-step closer to achieving a success. In other words, sales, or fundraising, is a bit of a numbers game. We know we will encounter rejection no matter what we do. So, when we do encounter one, we know we’re getting it out of the way and getting closer to finding a “Yes.”

In sales and fundraising, maintaining a champion’s attitude is a key to success.

Recently, I was watching the Food Network show Chopped Junior (“Beginner’s Duck,” Season 3, Episode 3). In this program, children compete to determine who is the best chef of the group. I’m always amazed by the high-level of talent on display. We’re not talking about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; we’re talking about real cooking.

Ellie Zeiler, a 12-year-old cooking enthusiast, competed against others her age this week. Despite her enormous talent, Zeiler was cut following the second of three rounds.

When watching the show, I was struck by how Zeiler handled the rejection. She did not whine. She did not complain. She did not blame her defeat on unfairness, time, the judges, or her competitors. She did not bury her feelings, nor did she become consumed by them. Instead, she handled her defeat with extreme grace and wisdom:

I’m really sad that I got chopped. This competition has inspired me to really focus on my cooking. And I want people to know that I never quit, and I keep moving forward.”

Here’s what we all can learn about dealing with rejection from Zeiler’s fine example:

Do not bury your feelings. Recognize how you feel and accept it. However, do not let yourself be defeated by how badly you might feel. Move on. Zeiler acknowledged her sadness, but did not let it consume her.

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” — Charles R. Swindoll

Do not focus on the negative. Find and focus on the positive. Zeigler found inspiration in the competition. It inspired her to concentrate on her cooking and to further develop her skills. Whenever we face rejection, we have an opportunity to examine what we did and how we can improve our own skills.

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” — Michael Jordan

Never quit! Zeiler made it perfectly clear that she is not a quitter. Rejection is all part of a development professional’s life. If you’re not used to it, get used to it. To find the next “Yes,” you need to move forward with another ask.

“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” — Vince Lombardi

The next time a prospect tells you “No,” I want you to think about three things:

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February 24, 2012

Overcoming the 9 Fundraising NOs

I’m a huge, long-time fan of Bernard Ross, author and Director of The Management Centre. I first met him years ago when we were both speaking at the Institute of Fundraising Conference in the United Kingdom. His presentation was thoroughly entertaining and packed with valuable insights from his years as a nonprofit consultant with some of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations. Later that evening, we shared adult beverages in the hotel bar, swapped stories, and discovered a great deal of common ground.

Since first meeting Bernard, I try to attend whenever he speaks at an Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference or when he presents a webinar. I’m also a big fan of his books, Breakthrough Thinking for Nonprofit Organizations: Creative Strategies for Extraordinary Results and The Influential Fundraiser: Using the Psychology of Persuasion to Achieve Outstanding Results.

I’m honored that Bernard has agreed to share some fresh insights here about how fundraisers can better handle rejection:

 

People won’t always agree with your fundraising proposition. The implication is that even when you use the most targeted approaches the reality is you are still likely to get a “No” more often than a “Yes.”

The difference between a successful and an unsuccessful fundraiser is that they don’t necessarily accept the first “No” as a definitive answer. The successful fundraiser responds by being curious about what exactly the donor means.

There’s Darwinian logic to this, at least in fundraising. Put simply, if you only asked people who you knew would definitely say “Yes,” or if you only asked for the size of gift that you were sure they would definitely give, you’d:

  • be working off a very, very small sample of potential donors,
  • probably tend to “under-ask” by framing your proposition very low.

And, the negative payoff is you’d possibly:

  • be letting down your cause and the people you’re there to help.

So, to be successful as a fundraiser you need to learn to deal with the possibility of rejection. And, in particular, you need to deal with initial rejection and be able to analyze it more closely. That first “No” may not be as bleak as it appears.

To help you manage and interpret the possible rejections you might experience, we’ve created a “No” typology. In our experience, there are essentially nine fundraising “No”s that prospects use. With the first eight of these, if you follow up with a better question you may well get a better result. Only one of these responses – the last one – genuinely means “No, go away.” And if you hear this “No,” you should leave.

The 9 Fundraising “No”s are:

  1. No, not for this.
  2. No, not you.
  3. No, not me.
  4. No, not unless.
  5. No, not in this way.
  6. No, not now.
  7. No, too much.
  8. No, too little.
  9. No, go away.

Each of these “No”s has an underlying reason or explanation that a skilled influencer will seek to uncover. And, that’s why dealing with “No” properly requires that you ask a different or better question rather than simply giving up.

So, how do you get from a “No” to a “Yes”?

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October 21, 2011

How to Snatch Success from the Jaws of Failure

I’m no stranger to disappointment, either in my personal or professional life. Most recently, the much anticipated baseball postseason ended prematurely for my Philadelphia Phillies. I was saddened. Judging from the faces of the players, the postseason elimination was even more painful for them.

Phillies Win 2008 World Series Trophy

The Phillies failure to go to the World Series got me thinking of my own failures and the challenges we all face in the development profession or even serving as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization. Two of the greatest challenges that we all face are dealing effectively with failure and rejection.

Interestingly, these are the same challenges faced by sales professionals. So, what can a salesman teach a fundraiser about failure and rejection? If that salesman is the legendary Tom Hopkins, the answer is plenty.

Hopkins made his first million dollars in sales by the age of 27. He accomplished this by making the subject of selling his hobby and by studying every aspect of the sale in incredible detail. Today, he is known internationally as a master sales trainer and the author of several bestselling books on the art of sales. You can learn more about him by visiting his website: http://tomhopkins.com.

Hopkins teaches five important axioms for dealing with failure:

1) “I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.”

You can look upon failure or rejection and simply choose to wallow in your defeat by feeling sorry for yourself. Or, you can learn from the experience. While you will never be a winner every time, you can improve your performance by learning from your experience and understanding what works and what does not.

Regarding his struggle to invent a long-lasting light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He eventually invented the light bulb that changed the world.

2) “I never see failure as failure, but only as the feedback I need to change course in my direction.”

Failure or rejection can only slow us down if we allow them to. Instead, if we view failure or rejection as feedback, we can pivot off of it to our next action step which just might lead to a positive response from that prospect or another.

For example, I once observed a fundraiser ask a prospect for a significant donation. The prospect lived in one of the wealthiest communities in America. The prospect responded, “I’m sorry. I can’t help you out right now. Cash is tight. You see, my wife is having the gardener completely re-landscape the backyard.” The fundraiser’s heart could have sunk. He could have ended the conversation cordially and moved on. Instead, the fundraiser considered what the prospect said as useful information rather than as a rejection. Specifically, the fundraiser heard “I can’t help you right now” and that the family has a gardener. So, the fundraiser asked, “If things are tight right now, would you be able to make a gift of that size next month?” The donor cheerfully replied, “If you can wait until next month, that would be great. We’ll be done with the landscaping by then so I’ll have the cash. Are you sure that’s not a problem for you?” The fundraiser closed the gift.

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