Carnival Submissions: Handling Objections

I’m hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival for the month of June featuring links and summaries of the top posts from around the blogosphere around handling objections. I also wanted to reach out see if anyone from the A Small Change community had anything to add on an earlier conversation.

Every nonprofit professional has a list of objections they hear regularly. “Why should I give money to a government organization?” or, “I’m focusing my giving, who can afford to give in this economy?” I will be posting some of the most popular objections from you, my readers, and expert bloggers will provide some targeted advice.

What are popular objections you hear at your organization and how do you respond to them?

  • For bloggers, submit a response by June 27 (special consideration will be given to posts that answer the objections presented below by my readers). Next, enter your submission by:
    • Filling out the Nonprofit Blog Carnival form here
    • Or, emailing your post’s link nonprofitcarnival (at)
  • For my readers, leave a comment below with an objection your organization often hears.

3 Responses to Carnival Submissions: Handling Objections

  1. FundraiserBeth says:

    Jason, With the economy the way it is right now, I have often heard “We are continuing our current commitments, but not taking on anything new.” (These are for asks for 5-figure gifts and above). The exception I found was at the start of the downturn, when many donors were adding onto their usual major gifts with additional gifts to basic needs, such as food, housing. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is the “feeling” of scarcity that is driving much of that (there are lots of articles/blogs addressing this issues, which is not a new one!) Interested to hear what others are hearing!

  2. One objection is what I will coin as the “passive” objection. The scenario is…Yes, I am absolutely going to donate and then the prospective donor does not follow through or respond. When following up, no return of a phone call, email etc.

    It is easy to generalize or write this off as “sign of the times”, however I think there is a lot more to the prospective donors story. With a few people, the gift of a candid conversation has really helped to change an approach. One of my past board members said it well. He said, “I can take rejection, it is the not knowing that gets me.” Too often we focus on the money. I like to focus on the touch points as well. With each person we talk story with an individual, it is an opportunity to share the needs or the pain and talk about what support looks like (volunteering-time or talent or treasure).

  3. Lara says:

    I am a major gifts officer for a public university and travel outside the state to meet with our alumni and donors. Often, I hear one of three things, a) as a public university we receive support from the state and therefore shouldn’t need private funding or, that private funding wouldn’t seem to make a difference; b) the university is not top of mind in their own community as we are located elsewhere and not consistently present; and c) I’m committed elsewhere right now/there are so many needs. Twice I heard “I’m still trying to convince my husband.”

    These aren’t necessarily rejections, per se, but rather questions about the impact and urgency their potential gift might have. What it says to me is that it’s more a matter of timing than rejection. It means I have more work to do in terms of building their awareness of our case, interest, participation and ownership. The rule of thumb (Kim Klein) is that you need three to four prospects for every one gift because one will say no, one will say yes but not that amount, and one will say yes to the full amount. While rejections can be a downer, if we do our jobs well, the odds are still in our favor.

    Lastly, I would say the issue of scarcity (mentioned in an earlier post) is alive and kicking. One approach I take, for specific donors, is talking about estate planning. When cash and assets are tight, estate planning is an easier conversation to have and doesn’t give the donor that immediate feeling of sacrifice.

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