Donors ignoring you?

by Marcy Heim on August 10, 2022

Ok…so I will confess I enjoyed every second VIRTUALLY with the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and about 40 of their team earlier this week. While the goal is to eventually be with them in person, this was a terrific way to get them on board THINKING differently about our work and digging in with my tangible 3-sentence ask tool. Great fun! They are having great success and headed for even more now!

UJA Federation 2022

Ah, thinking differently! There’s the magic! Why? Because when you think differently it influences the next steps you take – it’s that simple – for right or wrong, positive or negative. Yeah, that’s the rub. The same magic can produce rainbows or earthquakes!

Think differently!

In my VIP coaching calls this week one of my clients, a successful major gift officer, shared, “(CEO) and I both have donors we have been trying to connect with. We are feeling like they are dodging our calls. I am not sure what’s going on with my people. So your advice on how to handle these situations would be good – for both of us.”

As much success as we experience doing this wonderful work, we are often still plagued with fears that we are offending someone, being a pest, or being avoided because we are asking for money.  Most of the time it’s YOUR THINKING around these gaps in connecting that’s causing the troubles.  Here’s how to think differently!

Think Differently About Being Dodged by your Donors

Think differently!

1. Determine what is truth and what is fear.

As you look at a situation – donors don’t respond to an email, or two, or text or call….do you have any concrete reason to believe they have changed their mind about having a conversation with you?  Or is your thinking leading you to this conclusion?  “They seemed interested, but not so much now” is your unmanaged thinking and YOU projecting your fear, your reluctance to “push too hard” on meeting up. 

2. Stay true to your relationship.

What are the facts here?  Have they supported you in the past? Do they believe in your mission? Have they been friendly and interested in the past? So is it true that all that’s really changed is their reaction to your invitations? The reasons for this are ENDLESS – they never got the email, summer fun, family gatherings, health, vacations, work, and on and on. Be curious around what might be going on with them – don’t dream up stories about how they feel about you or your mission. If your kids or close friend were not to respond would you decide they don’t love you anymore or they just have other stuff going on? Why not give your donors this same understanding?

3. Be your best self with them. 

YOU CHANGE when you believe your donor is avoiding you! Your voice, your tone, your smile, your spirit! YOU project – “I know you really don’t want to talk to me but I was obligated to call you anyway.”  I have witnessed the best development professionals transform with a donor they believe has an issue – and it’s not a good change.  Your change can be the biggest driver in the wrong direction! Your donor is reacting to YOU and feeling your awkwardness. Recognize your feelings and reframe how you show up for the call. Tell yourself, “These folks are eager to see me and connect with our mission.” Be excited about them and what their

4. Take action to inspire generosity! Be open and honest in your approach.

Remember you have a calling. You have the magic sauce that connects the giver with the good they want to do. Giving feels GREAT! You are not getting them to “open there wallets” but rather invest in something they believe in – and that YOU SHARE WITH THEM – your love of mission. Sure, there will be folks who are not interested in giving for whatever reasons. Be excited about them and where ever their philanthropy leads them.

So what happens when we change our thinking about donors dodging us?

 “Talked to a donor at August registration who I had emailed back in early June about a WSF gift. She never responded, so (as usual), I wasn’t sure how to interpret. When she saw me she asked, “Did you send me an email this summer?” When I said yes, she said what a busy summer it had been and that she is still planning on making a WSF gift. So there you go.”

“Called the individual who I felt was dodging me again the next day coming from a different mental place. He thanked me for calling and said he plans to give double the amount ($14,000) and wants to know how to set this up to be a permanently supported gift. Amazing!”

If you think your donors like you,

And finally, realize that not every call will lead to a gift, but every call will be a chance to enjoy a conversation about the power and joy of giving. And that’s what makes our work and life so very special! SHINE ON!

Invest in JOY®


Are you a Prideful Plumber!

by Marcy Heim on July 27, 2022

Recently two major gift fundraisers coaching clients created and held brand new appreciation-engagement events.  Tense conversations surfaced as the unexpected and follow-through mishaps generated frustration. Yet the joy and euphoria that followed these mission celebrations with givers who deeply care erased much of the pre-event pain. There’s just nothing like it.  Have you been there?

Drew & Chloe

My son-in-law, Drew Vanderwert, is here for a first-ever visit with our 2-year-old granddaughter. Drew is a Senior Associate at LandDesign – a Landscape Architecture firm in Denver and shares my “I create my life” managed-mindset approach in work and life. I’m extremely proud of his growth and accomplishments – and he’s a great dad!  

As he manages folks on his team they are required to ask themselves, “Are you a Prideful Plumber?” as they submit their work. Plumbers create a plumbing manifold – a hub for the plumbing system that distributes the water throughout a home. How this manifold performs and looks is different when created by a plumber who takes great pride in her work. I got to thinking about how we can benefit from this approach.

Are you a Prideful Plumber?

1. Your work is clearly labeled in clear terms.

A prideful plumber labels her drawings with understandable words, not jargon, and it is easily read. All the needed labels are present. It generally takes more time to complete this.

Our donors are generally not plumbers or fundraisers. When we take that extra care to explain ways donors can help with clear pictures, stories and examples that demonstrate annual giving, vs endowment and estate giving, QCD’s and more, it serves our donors. It may well take several conversations and some time and patience. Best practice says 3rd grade level and skim-able content.

2. Checkpoints are created throughout the process of creating the manifold.

Prideful plumbers are sure to build in check-points with milestones along the way and to have others review their work.

Some of us see asking someone to read over our work as demonstrating a lack of confidence, or a show of weakness. In fact, this is a show of respect for your donors and your profession. You care enough to first, check your own work and then, get a second pair of eyes to see what you missed.  Putting in some early deadlines can help refocus on when different tasks are due. In the end, embrace that there will always be the “last minute” tasks. Paying attention to timelines and getting others involved says, “I care” and allows for the magic that comes from collaboration.

plumbing manifold

3. Your work leaves a positive long-term impression.

A prideful plumber creates a system that is not only functional but LOOKS like care was taken.  The pipes are the same intentionally-measured distance apart, labeling is present, simple and clear. It gives you the feeling that someone knew what they were doing and took pride in their work. It leaves an impression for those who follow long after the original work is done.

When our total look – from a clean car to a clear letter of agreement – says we take pride in our work, it leaves a strong positive long-term impression. It’s a legacy you can leave that will serve your mission and your donors well.  And, for most of us, it’s often a legacy we get little recognition and appreciation for. That feeling of “Job well done” we must often conjure for ourselves. The perfectionist in many of us will read this in total agreement.  However, I’d also speak for balance with grace for yourself and others in determining when “good enough” is, indeed, good enough.

Bring your best effort every day.

DO take pride in your work!  Know that even when it is not always recognized and appreciated by others, your work leaves a legacy and continues to share your caring, high self-esteem and determination to help your non-profit mission shine!

Invest in JOY®


Do NOW for Transformational Gifts THIS Year-End

July 13, 2022

So I went to how many fireworks shows???  Who’s counting! Best part was time shared with family! Hope your July holiday was filled with good times… and some quiet times, too! Happy Summer!  Best for me is being a major donor to the Kids from Wisconsin. Tyler Curtain is one of the “kids” I am […]

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Spread Appreciation and Clap for yourself!

June 22, 2022

Cheers to YOU as the sun rises and sets on the longest day of the year. (I am writing this June 21). Today brings 3 hours and 17 minutes more daylight and I got to see it start to finish! Wohoo! This day was a full one – not a crack in the calendar. I […]

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Connect to what the money DOES!

June 8, 2022

Have you ever been in total awe of what you were seeing?    The Y2Y Board Retreat in Montana provided my first chance ever to visit Yellowstone National Park (and Ken joined in!). This experience was so amazing because of the newfound connection I have made to nature – grizzlies, bison, elk, moose, and so […]

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Get excited NOW! Your life and major gifts success right now!

May 25, 2022

It’s almost summer! Get excited! This is my life right NOW (and I’ll bet yours too!) And we need to GET EXCITED! Listen up…. Get excited about the weeds you pulled in the garden this afternoon.  And…get excited about how the garden will look when it’s all done! Get excited about raising $5,000 and $10,000 […]

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Can you be TOO passionate?

May 11, 2022

Together. Again. Wohoo! It was just the BEST! Three incredible and passionate IN PERSON experiences! Congrats to The Volunteer Center, their passionate Executive Director Sharon Bass, and her team for a wildly successful Celebration of Service event! The hall was ignited with hundreds of energetic high school students through seniors who lend a hand and […]

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Your board-Are you sharing these Key Messages?

April 27, 2022

Ok, I confess. Being in a room with Board and Leadership is THEE BEST THING I DO!   Leading a Board Experiences is an opportunity for me to: clear confusion address distaste for the “f” word (fundraising, you silly) plant seeds for BIG VISIONS and,  provide a self-selected road-map of how to help with fundraising ……….and […]

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Cultivating in Uncertain Times

April 13, 2022

Have you ever been around a farmer in spring? It’s a worrisome time.  Will there be enough rain, too much rain, the right temperatures and ???? YET….. every year THEY PLANT AND CULTIVATE their crops to bring us food – important work to be sure. Your work is important, too. And even in these uncertain […]

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Change your thinking, Change your Board

March 23, 2022

If you’re thinking your board and volunteers still prefer to zoom, change your thinking! When I look at my most successful clients RIGHT NOW – the ones who are having the greatest success with NEW major gifts – all are effectively and personally bringing people together. Meet Jill Vitale-Aussem. She’s CEO of Christian Living Communities in […]

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