These are indeed extraordinary times.
Right now, you need your donors to stay with you. The reality is that some donors will see you through this crisis. And some will not.
What do you do if you receive a dreaded email like this?
Dear Rabbi Yosef,
Shavua Tov. I hope everyone close to you is feeling well. These are extraordinary times; I don’t have to tell you.
In light of that, could you please “temporarily” suspend charging my credit card $1,000.00 each month until I see where the present situation leads us? The last charge was on Feb 25.
Thank you and besoros tovos.
So how do you respond to an email like this?
– If you know that there is nothing you can do…
The decision is final. The donor doesn’t have the funds anymore. So you should respond with much appreciation for what he has done.
- Tell him how his support has got you this far.
- Show genuine gratitude for his generosity.
- Moving forward, continue to put in efforts to keep the relationship going for better times.
– If you sense perhaps the donor is cutting you because he’s being cautious…
If it’s clear he has the ability to give, should you try and challenge this donor’s perspective?
It’s definitely hard to give over the nuances that may be necessary in any situation, but here are some suggestions that may help you, based on your sensitivity to and relationship with the donor.
If it seems like the donor still has the means, albeit less than a few weeks ago, then be proactive.
Put in effort to try to keep this donor on board. Either at his current level or at a lower level.
To do this you’ll need to help him reframe his priorities. You could do this by helping him put his giving to you in context of his total giving.
Is this donation going to break him? Probably not. But there’s a fine balance between not letting him cut you and being too pushy.
Practically, wherever possible, call him on the phone.
Or arrange a Zoom meeting.
Show understanding. Acknowledge his challenge. Allow him to share what prompted him to make his decision.
At the same time, find out what’s really going on with the donor right now. Is he forced to cut just some of his tzedakah obligations? Or is he cutting everybody?
He may have chosen you since it involves less pain than cutting others. By talking with him, you may touch his neshama and cause him to re-adjust his priorities.
Remind him what his reasons are for giving to you and your history together. Share with him how his support has gotten you to where you are right now.
Share a story that can help him reframe his giving in turbulent times.
You could mention how it’s so counterintuitive to be giving right now. How the zchus of his giving is far more valuable than ever before.
If you see he is maybe open to re assessing, then ask. “Are you open to making a compromise?”
- If he is open, then ask him if he could reconsider making this cut a few months down the line when everything will be much clearer.
- Or ask if he would reconsider the amount of the cut. Throw out a counter offer. Would you consider cutting your giving to us by 25%? Perhaps he’ll end up lowering you to 50% instead.
To summarize, you need to
- First empathize.
- Clarify if his decision is final or there is a potential to negotiate.
- Ask permission to reconsider.
- If yes, suggest postponing the cut or ask for a compromise amount.
May HKBH give you much brocha and siyata d’Shmaya in all your efforts on behalf of Am Yisrael. B’hatzlacha Raba Raba and Besoras Tovos.
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Avraham Lewis is the fundraising coach for busy Jewish leaders who need a clear system for raising much more.