People sometimes compare the foundation/grantseeker courtship to the dating process: Funders and grantseekers are looking to find each other and build long-term relationships. Sometimes the chemistry is there; other times it isn’t. Rejection is an inevitable part of this process so learning to say no, politely and confidently, is an essential skill.
That said, let’s be frank, it’s hard to say no to a friend or a colleague who asks for donations to their favorite charitable cause. It’s uncomfortable. If you’re conflict-adverse, you might reluctantly make a gift out of guilt or even start avoiding the grantseeker rather than directly discuss the pending request—leading to feelings of more guilt and even greater discomfort.
[callout]Funders who must say “no, thank you” on a regular basis tell us that mastering the turndown is something of an art. You want to be sensitive, but you also want to avoid misunderstandings.[/callout]