Here are three 2019 stories about nonprofits in West Michigan (names of organizations and volunteers withheld to protect the innocent):

  1. A volunteer fundraiser approaches a donor prospect to ask for a gift to the nonprofit. The donor prospect tells the volunteer during an initial phone call that they’re not interested in the campaign. The volunteer asks if she can still stop by to introduce the new executive director. The donor prospect agrees. A few days later, the meeting occurs, the volunteer introduces the exec and the donor prospect begins to ask questions about the campaign. By the end of the meeting, the donor prospect agrees to a five-figure gift (this is a first-time gift to the organization).
  2. A staff member of a local nonprofit approaches a community foundation about a gift. The community foundation makes a grant to the campaign and the staff member inquires about the possibility of community foundation staff connecting him to some of their donor advised fund trustees. The staff at the foundation helps to make a few connections yielding a gift from a donor couple of five figures each year until they pass away (the donor couple is in their 70s). If the donor couple is in good health, this will likely result in a cumulative six-figure gift over the coming years.
  3. A nonprofit in Southwest Michigan approaches a donor with a seven- figure naming opportunity. After expressing initial interest, the donor prospect declines to make a gift. Several months pass and the donor prospect reaches back out to the organization. He and his wife end up making the seven-figure gift.

The lesson: Often times, the difference between success and failure in fundraising is persistence. In each of the above cases, a volunteer or staff member persisted despite a declination or persisted to uncover additional donor prospects.

When you face a road block, resist the urge to give up, indulge in pity, or become discouraged. Fight through the declines and find success.