Don’t Let The Fear Of “No” Get In The Way Of Giving
When Jan Jacobs led fundraising efforts for the Seattle-based international health innovation nonprofit, PATH, a high-tech sticker helped engage donors with the organization’s mission. Donors were invited to tour the facilities where a PATH product designer, who Jan compared to Bill Nye the Science Guy, “with his apron and ear protectors slung around his neck”, demonstrated how a heat-sensitive sticker, no bigger than a dime, let health workers in Africa know if vials of polio vaccine had been damaged by heat exposure.
The small sticker, called a Vaccine Vial monitor, saved millions of doses of the vaccine from being discarded unnecessarily. For donors, seeing a specific example of the complex health work being done by PATH helped them understand the real-world impact their giving achieved.
Jan Jacobs spent more than 3 decades raising money for nonprofits, including the Seattle Symphony and the Make-a-Wish Alaska and Washington. She saw how nonprofit fundraisers frequently hesitated to reach out to their donors, worried about being told “no”. Her biggest lesson learned from legendary fundraiser G.T. “Buck” Smith was, “never withhold an invitation for fear it will be rejected. Invite people to engage.”
Now, Jan supports donors in their philanthropy as Vice President, Philanthropic Client Manager, with U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. The most recent U.S. Trust High Net Worth Philanthropy study showed donors’ number one question was, “Where should I give? Help me identify charities to give to so that it has impact.” But, Jan has seen the fear of “no” keep donors from reaching out to nonprofits to learn more.
“never be afraid to engage with a charity for fear you will be over solicited. Donors should ask questions. The work is very interesting, and people would gain so much from that experience and could better focus and direct their giving.”
Although donors care about making an impact, Jan recognized that some can hesitate to ask nonprofits for more information because, “they don’t want to be put in a situation where they have to say, ‘no’.” Jan helps donors overcome uncertainties, encouraging them to talk directly to charities they care about, “never be afraid to engage with a charity for fear you will be over solicited. Donors should ask questions. The work is very interesting, and people would gain so much from that experience and could better focus and direct their giving.”
Jan recommends a few other practices to donors looking to make an impact with their giving:
- Think about multi-year commitments
- Give consistently year-over-year to charities
- Put a philanthropy strategy in place
- Go on site visits to organizations
According to Jan, “if people want to have an impact, they need to take the time to think about what they care about and then to commit to those causes and issues. I know from my own giving that when you do, you feel so much more confident. And you won’t feel over solicited because it gives you permission to confidently say no to causes that are outside your area of focus.”
Not every nonprofit organization offers high-tech science demonstrations like PATH, but Jan assures donors that nonprofits are all eager to share their work, “and if it’s something you care about naturally, you’re going to be amazed at the stories you hear and the things you learn. You’ll love it.”
You can learn more about national trends in donor giving from these two recent studies:
- 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy
- Institute for Policy Studies Report: Gilded Giving 2018
In 2018, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation fundholders granted more than $4.7 million to the community. Community resources and grants directed by GTCF totaled $4.0 million. GTCF issued a total of 1,168 grants to 480 grantees.
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s philanthropy team can assist you in making an impact in the community through philanthropy. Call 253-383-5622 or email.