Many nonprofits take a break from fundraising after they have sent out a request for support or a project proposal to a donor. I know the feeling. You have done something big and important, with a deadline perhaps. And you need to celebrate. You need a breather to compensate for the extra stress and extra workload maybe. And you are right. You need that. And your team needs that. And you need to provide that breather. BUT! Don’t take off until when you hear back from the donor. Here is what you need to do after you reach out to a donor – in my opinion.


Indeed, the first thing to do, immediately, and NEVER to forget, is to celebrate the work done. Do this with the whole team, not just those involved directly. Because everyone’s work in the organization will count towards any success achieved. Be sure to focus on celebrating the team spirit, the amount of work done, the look & feel of it, etc. Learning can come later, and can be done with those involved directly, at another time.


Secondly, make sure that everyone involved in producing the request for support or the project proposal gets a chance to refresh, to breathe without a new internal or external deadline coming up the next week. This is of course something you have to plan for when you start planning for the work on the request or proposal. Afterwards, your key task is to make sure people do take a bit of time off or do take things a little more easily than usual.

And – reach out

Thirdly, and don’t wait too long with this, is to get back in the saddle so to speak; continue with your outreach to donors and continue searching for new possibilities to pitch a request for support or to submit a project proposal.

Why not wait?

Many nonprofits feel they need to wait for a response before they can plan next steps with other donors. So, they take a break. And the duration of the break is then defined by the donor, and the time it takes them to respond. Effectively, you are then letting yourself be taken hostage by the donor and their timeline. And at the end of their timeline, they may even decline. So that you then have waited for an empty pocket.

Relations are ongoing

As the key to fundraising is strong relations, it is also logical that your routine in building relations should not stop simply because you have submitted a project proposal or sent a request for support to one of your contacts. It may indeed not be prudent to reach out to a donor who is, hopefully, right that minute deciding about your request or proposal. But that is no reason why your other (potential) donors should not hear from you. These relations are ongoing and working on them should be part of your routines. Always.

My key tips

  • Plan your celebration of successful team work ahead of time and include the whole team in this.
  • Plan a breather for involved team members right after the celebration ahead of time.
  • Keep your routine in building relations with your donors going and
  • Keep your routine in looking for new possible donors going.

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – jump into the Facebook group and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!

Here is how you can join my free Facebook group

You can join my free Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.