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I work with a STEM education nonprofit. A few weeks ago, I reached out to a local science museum hoping to establish a relationship and work on joint projects. I heard back from one of the people there. He mentioned that he'd had dealings with the nonprofit in the past (before I got there) and the experience was not a positive one. However, he said he was willing to meet on any one of three consecutive days during the month.

I reached out to the nonprofit president who said he was available on any of those days, so I followed up with the museum representative via email and did not hear back. I left him a message on his voicemail the next day. He returned my call on a Saturday afternoon from what I assume is a work cell number, but I was unable to take the call. He seemed fairly irritated about "playing phone tag", and asked me to pursue further communication via email. I returned the call in 60 minutes but got his voicemail (I had not had a chance to check my voicemail yet). Since then, he has not responded to any of my emails (or read them, as far as I can tell).

Is this a lost cause at this point? I have the name and phone number of his supervisor. Is it worthwhile to try going through her?

  • Is there a benefit to the museum to work with you? Or is the benefit only to you? – thursdaysgeek Jun 17 at 22:40
  • I think that the museum can benefit from many of our skillsets. – jamesson Jun 17 at 23:00
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    asked me to pursue further communication via email. I returned the call in 60 minutes - not to sound insensitive to your situation, but you pretty much immediately ignored his email-only request? That was probably the nail in the coffin... – dwizum Jun 18 at 13:41
  • Jamesson, Did your first email include an apology about not having listened to his voice mail in time? Why did you have to involve the non-profit President? Couldn't you meet him on your own (especially considering the fact that the non-profit screwed this up previously)? Personally, I wouldn't contact the supervisor, I would just wait six months. By then maybe, you'll know enough to do business without the President being there. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 20 at 6:08
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Is this a lost cause at this point?

Possibly. Probably.

I have the name and phone number of his supervisor. Is it worthwhile to try going through her?

Only if you want to irritate him even further and risk permanently losing any current or future opportunity to collaborate.

Sometimes things don't work out. If you don't hear back then let it go and try following up in a few months.

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I have been in similar situations, and it seems a little bit over the top. Maybe your contact was/is stressed, maybe you are supporting their worst idea of nonprofit org behavior, who knows.

Regardless of whether the museum person might or might not be unreasonable, this was a mistake:

He seemed fairly irritated about "playing phone tag", and asked me to pursue further communication via email. I returned the call in 60 minutes

I like the suggestion of @joeqwerty about following up in a few months, letting things chill a little bit. Going over person's head is not a good idea, since you might end up working with them.

In the similar situation in the future, I would also suggest asking directly what were the issues with your nonprofit ("he'd had dealings with the nonprofit in the past (before I got there) and the experience was not a positive one"). You might also ask within your org if collaboration was satisfactory.

  • It might make sense to follow up within your nonprofit to determine what the issues were, versus asking the museum rep. That person already seems really irritated. Asking them why will probably may just come off as even more irritating. – dwizum Jun 18 at 13:43

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