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  • Writer's picturelauramccartytufano

It's Not a No Until It's a No.

It was the middle of December, and I was out of town on a rare friendcation. A client called for advice.

She needed to know if she was being too pushy. She needed to know if it was time to throw in the towel on a certain donor.

The donor had said months earlier that he planned to make a seven-figure gift that year. But in recent months, he had gone silent. My client had reached out a handful of times, but the donor had not responded. Now there were only a couple of weeks left in the year. My client desperately wanted to secure what would be a transformational gift, but was beginning to worry that the donor would feel badgered by her.

Of course I took the call, and I chatted with her for about 45 minutes from the lobby of the museum I had been about to enter.

Laura standing in front of a banner in the lobby of the National Museum of African American Music
Laura at the National Museum of African American Music

My advice: Be persistent. He told you his intentions earlier in the year. He hasn’t given you any indication that his intentions have changed. Assume they haven’t until you hear otherwise directly from him.

If you’ve been leaving voicemails, try email. Try texting. Don’t start with “Sorry to bother you again.” Say, “When we met in March, you shared that you planned to make a transformational gift this year. The year is quickly coming to a close, and I’m here to help you make that dream a reality! Do you have time for a quick phone call?”

I once had a donor tell my CEO that I was tenacious. It was one of my favorite compliments. You can’t expect people to part with their hard earned money with a timid approach. I’ve never badgered. I’ve just believed in my cause, and believed in my prospects’ good hearts. When I reach out to a prospect to ask for a meeting and they say they are very busy, I ask when would be a better time. I’ll schedule a meeting months out if needed. I’m happy to take no for an answer, when the prospect truly gives a “no.” But to me, “I’m busy right now” is not a no.

"I'm busy right now" is not a no.

The client took my advice, and her persistence paid off. She ended up getting the gift.

I was happy to take that call from the lobby of a museum on my vacation. I’ll always take an opportunity to help build a client’s confidence and encourage their persistence.

After all, when I’m hired as a trusted advisor, your success is my success! Set up a meeting with me here.

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