when is it OK to go over someone’s head?

A reader writes:

I’m a millennial who spent most of my life believing everyone in the working world is hyper-competent. Silly me!

I do administration work at a nonprofit, and we’re currently counting on another nonprofit to give us some grant money they’ve promised us, by contract. I have been trying to get in touch with one of their staff members for nearly five months. Phone calls, emails — nothing.

I know COVID slows things down, but this is getting completely absurd. I’ve repeatedly inquired as to if there’s something we need to do to hurry this along — no reply. (But he does return contacts with other organizations. I don’t think we did anything to sabotage our relationship with this other charity, but we have a long history and our ED can be a contentious individual, so I’m unclear.)

This staff member is the primary liaison between his organization and ours, so we want to keep it civil. I’ve been advised to go over his head, to his boss … but she’s the executive director of his charity. I’m very aware I could get this guy fired, maybe.

1) When someone’s flaking out on their essential responsibilities, when is it appropriate to go over their head to their boss? How important does the issue have to be, and/or how long should you wait?

2) What are the best practices for going over someone’s head and getting things done, while also making sure we don’t ruin our relationship with a worker and/or organization who — for all I know — is just going through some sh*t right now?

Oh, yeah, everyone in the working world is not hyper-competent. Definitely let go of that idea!

And yes, it’s time to go over his head.

You’ve been trying to reach him for five months. You’ve tried calling, you’ve tried emailing. Your organization is depending on getting this money. There’s a signed contract. It’s time to escalate.

Because you’re concerned about the politics of the situation, you should check with your own boss before you escalate. But as a general rule, when someone has ignored you about something important for this long, you can go over their head. (Actually, as a general rule, if someone has ignored you for this long I’d assume there’s a good chance they’re no longer in that job — but you say here that you know he is.)

It’s very unlikely that you’re going to get someone fired by making one complaint. If he did get fired, it would be because there was already a serious pattern of problems. In trouble, yes, and that’s warranted. Fired, unlikely. But regardless of what happens, you won’t be the person causing it. This isn’t like someone who goes all “let me speak to your manager” on a retail worker — you’ve been extraordinarily patient and given him multiple chances to respond to you, and this is a serious problem that warrants escalation. And importantly, you’re not trying to get him in trouble; you’re trying to get a situation resolved where a contract isn’t being followed.

I do want to note though: it’s possible his silence is because that grant money isn’t coming, or isn’t coming anytime soon. Some people handle “I have bad news” or “I don’t have any updates” by just saying nothing at all — which is a terrible way to operate, but still a thing that happens. If it’s that, though, it’s still reasonable for you to push to know what’s going on, including by trying someone else since he’s not responding.

As for general guidelines on going over someone’s head when a person is being unresponsive:

* How long to wait depends on how urgent the issue is. If something’s not pressing, you might be able to wait weeks. In other cases, you’d need to escalate within days, or even the same day. (In that case, though, you’d acknowledge the short time frame — for example, “I haven’t been able to reach Percival and realize he may be tied up or even not in today, so I’m checking with you because we need X by the close of the day.”)

* If the issue is minor, it might not make sense to escalate it at all, but it really depends on what it is. That said, when minor things add up to a problematic pattern, the pattern itself can become worth raising.

* When you can, it’s good to let the person know that escalating will be your next step — as in, “I’m not sure what to do since I can’t reach you, so my plan is to ask for Jane’s help if I haven’t heard back from you by Tuesday.” Sometimes that will be the nudge they need, and it heads off “why didn’t you tell me it had become this big of a problem first?” (Caveat: I’m talking throughout this post about situations where you’re just not getting what you need from someone. You don’t need to warn someone ahead of time if you’re reporting harassment, discrimination, safety issues, or other serious problems.)

* When you escalate, try if possible to give the person the benefit of the doubt. If you’re talking to someone’s boss because they’ve stopped responding to emails and are missing deadlines, try assuming there could be a sympathetic reason for it — like that they’re taking time off because they lost a family member or have been very ill. It doesn’t change your need to alert their boss that you need the work problem solved, but it will probably change your tone and the way you word things. It should be less “Percival is lazy and doesn’t answer email anymore” and more “I’m having trouble reaching Percival and his assignments have been late — what’s the best way for me to proceed?” (So in your case, you could frame it to the executive director as, “We haven’t been able to get ahold of Percival about the grant money we were expecting by April 30. I’ve been calling and emailing without any response since early May, and I wasn’t sure if he was out of the office or not coordinating grants anymore. Would you be able to update us or point me in the right direction?”)

But most managers want to know if someone they supervise isn’t responding to people or isn’t doing key aspects of their job. Once you’ve given the person a chance to resolve the situation by letting them know there’s a problem and it’s still not working, in most cases the next step is to take it higher (either to your own boss or to theirs).

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 129 comments… read them below }

  1. Blue*

    I love Alison’s advice and wanted to add an additional suggestion/tweak. When I have faced similar situations, I have started by cc’ing my own boss on my next communication with the person, stating that my boss would be reaching out to their boss if they and I couldn’t get it resolved within X days. Especially since his supervisor is the ED, having someone higher up in your own chain of command might yield a faster result or be taken more seriously. This is a very contextual approach but it can be a good way to go depending on the characters involved.

    1. Mid*

      If this is a recurring issue, I’d be much less likely to give them a warning before looping in their boss. Five months is a very very long time to ignore something like this.

    2. Rafiology*

      It’s also possible that the ED will only want to speak with a peer (his boss) rather than an underling.

    3. Phony Genius*

      I agree that sometimes having your boss contact their boss works better. However, the OP says that they have been advised to go to the other person’s boss. I think it’s fair to assume that the advice came from the OP’s boss. If so, their best move is to do as advised.

    4. JSPA*

      Or use, “in case there’s some technical problem that’s preventing you from receiving or seeing my emails, or me from receiving or seeing yours, I’m turning this over to [name at your org] and [name at their org].”

      I’d also suggest starting fresh, rather than with a forward / forward chain. I have occasionally had email text that (despite not having any readily identifiable spam terms or other red flags) seemed, for some reason, to be an email poison pill. I once sat with a friend and (re) sent an email chain to her…saw it show up in my outbox as “sent,” yet not show up in either her inbox or her spam, nor any other searchable box. Pasting over the text to a new message = same problem. A different, newly generated email with unrelated message sailed through. This isn’t common, but after 5 months (!) it’s time to look for uncommon answers, Occam and his razor be damned.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        Also check your spam filter! Anything older than a month might be gone, but it’s still worth looking into.

      2. Avasarala*

        I like to copy the old message as a file in the new one. Starts a new chain while letting you keep the history of the old. “Following up on the attached email..”

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Absolutely I think you should attach the e-mail train with all of the requests. I like keeping it separate as you suggest, but the record should indicate clearly that this is not the first request, but a pattern of not receiving an answer.

    5. Blarg*

      I agree. And if the other person knows the name of your own boss, sometimes copying them in itself can be enough. I like to forward the original request with a new subject line (ie llama grooming RFP) and then “just wanted to follow up on the terms for the llama grooming RFP as mentioned below.” Copy my boss so a) she can see the original email I sent (I’m not slacking!), b) other person can save face and say they missed the email or whatever, c) but knows I’ve looped in my leadership and obvious next step is looping in their leadership.

    6. Anononon*

      I’d be careful about using that one and make sure your boss is fully on board with it. I know it wouldn’t generally work for me because my boss is highly unreliable when it comes to responding to emails. 90% of the time, getting a response from him involves a couple follow-ups over multiple platforms (email, text, instant message). Having him help with escalating like that would just be even more work on my end.

  2. No name here*

    One other thing that has worked in the past for me has been having my manager reach out as well, right before the final step. Depending on who you’re dealing with, sometimes hearing from someone with a fancier title helps get things done, unfortunately. It’s also a way to say “I’m about to escalate this” as a final head’s up.

    1. irritable vowel*

      Yes, as a manager if I heard about this from my staff member my next step would be for me to make contact directly with the other person’s boss. This protects my staff member from possibly being seen as overstepping and absolves her of the responsibility of escalating. This is what managers get paid more to do.

    2. Kettricken Farseer*

      I agree with this approach – there have been times when one of my staff asks me to “whip out” my title because they’re not getting traction on their own. I’ve also had to ask my own leadership to do the same.

    3. T2*

      I agree with this. I am not particular about my title. But if something’s is escalated to me it is pretty serious. It should be engaged on similar levels. Staff to staff. Boss to boss. Grandboss to grandboss. CEO to CEO.

      This allows upper management to judge how much capital they want to place in this.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Agreed to all this, though it depends on job duties sometimes. My team regularly works with EDs or C-suite in other organizations even though they’re not at that level. But yes, they can still always ask me to use my authority as needed, and my manager does the same for me.

        As a practical tip for someone who wants to ask their manager to reach out to another manager, I appreciate it when the team member escalating the issue to me sends me an email summarizing the issue, with thread if necessary, so that I can hit “send” pretty quickly, or have it in front of me when I call.

        It means I’m less likely to misrepresent the situation… and that I can take care of it faster than if I had to compose the email myself.

  3. Colette*

    I usually go with “I haven’t been able to get in touch with Percival about X. I assume he’s out of the office – is there someone else who can help me?”

    (In one particular case, I had to do this repeatedly – and would then get a response from Percival almost immediately.)

    1. starsaphire*

      Or “Is Percival still with your organization?”

      Even if you know for absolute sure that he still is. Because some companies do just allow email addresses to linger after someone has left.

  4. Just J.*

    OP, you note in your letter that “you have been advised” to go over this person’s head. I state / ask this to make sure that your manager and your boss know about the situation. In any situation where you need to escalate something your manager must be looped in too. Your own manager may be aware of circumstances that you are not.

    I also ask about you manager being aware as it may be better if any ‘escalating emails’ come from your manager. The more senior the person bringing up the issue the more weight it will carry – and it also shows the issue has been vetted by all channels on your end.

  5. Archie Goodwin*

    One further bit of advice, too – not so much for this situation but to keep in your back pocket for future. (Because you WILL experience this on multiple occasions…trust me.)

    Looping your boss into the next step is also a great way of establishing what that next step should be across the board. I deal with this all the time with certain processes in my current job, and dealt with it quite a bit at my last job, too. Establishing a guideline right off the bat helped me not have to wait as long the next time I didn’t get a response from someone else – I could move to Step B a lot more quickly and speed up the process.

  6. What's in a name?*

    When dealing with internal issue I can usually copy my boss and know he is very good at rephrasing my email and sending it again but with the word manager in the signature line. It usually works.

    I also hesitate to involve someone else’s boss without giving mine a heads up in case it becomes a group project but that is because he tends to dive in on issues even if all I need is some prodding on the other person.

  7. Jennifer*

    Ugh, I feel your pain because I hate going over people’s heads too. There are some that do it far too quickly and that has soured me on it. But I think you have every right to do it in this situation. You’ve tried everything.

  8. Agreed*

    Um, wow, what does it mean for “everyone” to be “hyper-competent”? Are people still eating and sleeping in this nightmare scenario you dreamed up?

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      It means that before you enter the working world, it’s easy to assume that people not being particularly good at or interested in their own jobs is a rare occurrence. Then you get your first job or two, and discover that it isn’t.

      1. Amy Sly*

        One of the lesser-appreciated elements of good Star Trek shows and movies is that they show each crewman being somewhere between competent and outstanding at his job and working smoothly together as a team.

        Unfortunately, the conceit of most businesses running that way is as much speculative fiction as the warp drive.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Eh, even Lt. Reginald Barclay was good at his work; he just had extremely terrible people skills.

              1. Death By Procedure*

                I loved Broccoli’s character for this reason. They demonstrated so many real life scenarios through his character.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            lol, we *just* watched the first Lt Barclay episode this weekend… (my kid and I are working our way through NextGen).

            But I’d say it shows *Enterprise* crew being really competent, which kinda makes sense for a ‘best of the best’ flagship. Non-Enterprise characters are often less than perfect, and not even just the Ferengi. Matter of Perspective – human professor tried to kill Riker to hide his embezzlement / double dealing.

            1. TardyTardis*

              Although I loved the Voyager episode where Janeway went way to the back of the ship and pulled out three people who were *perfectly* happy to be ignored–yes, they did their jobs, but they were delighted to be left out of fighting Kazon, etc. (My dad was in WWII, and he had deep, DEEP sympathy for their plight).

        1. Artemesia*

          For an antidote to this look at Hugh Laurie’s new show Avenue 5 in which he is the totally incompetent captain of a starship cruise ship and all of the crew was hired for their looks (while less attractive skeleton crew manages behind the scenes- alas competent backup captain dies in first episode)

          It is basically Gilligan’s Island in space and feels a lot like a lot of organizations I have worked with and in.

      2. Happy Pineapple*

        You hit the nail on the head. I remember being fresh out of graduate school, two degrees and many prestigious internships, part-time jobs, and fellowships under my belt, and I still had a really hard time finding a job. I thought the workforce must be full of absolute superstars in order for hiring to be so competitive. I definitely questioned my sanity and work ethic when I realized this was not the case!

    2. nona*

      Hyper-competent doesn’t mean workaholic (that would be hyper-productive)? I’d take it to mean that you assume people know how to do their jobs, know how to do them well, and that they do, in fact, do their jobs.

      The assumption of a hyper-competent workforce sounds like a dream. Hyper-productive does not.

      1. Lynn*

        ^ I think this distinction nails it on the head.

        I had the same problem as LW for a long time; if something didn’t make sense, I assumed it didn’t make sense TO ME because there was something at play I didn’t know or understand. I’ve come a long way in trusting my gut and realizing that if something doesn’t make sense to me, it’s probably because it just doesn’t make sense. Even the most competent people have their off-days when they make the most competent decisions; it’s all about being to articulate when things are not making sense and course-correct appropriately.

      1. JSPA*

        It is relevant because it explains why OP was willing to tolerate the situation on the assumption that there might be a good reason for the non-response / that it might be appropriate to wait for as long as it took, to hear back / that of course, nobody would let personal or even departmental enmity interfere with doing the job they were hired to do / that the bad employee is a myth of oppression used to justify bullying tactics by management / that going around or above a peer is almost always a noxious act, like tattling to the teacher about something that was never your business.

        OP is now questioning all of the above.

        (Mind you, OP should perhaps also ask themselves if they’re quite the worker they believe themselves to be, if they have not followed up except by calling and emailing the One Contact Who Doesn’t Respond. For five months. Though if they’ve been asking around enough to find out if other people are hearing back from the OCWDR, I suppose they’ve done some extra diligence.)

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I was curious about that as well. How was OP able to allow this go for 5 months without themselves getting into hot water? If OP’s boss was expecting this grant, why are they not questioning what’s happening? And if they are aware, why haven’t they escalated this issue? I’ve never worked for a non-profit, so maybe things run differently than I’m used to, but I know if I had something that I was relying on another person for, I wouldn’t be able to let it go that long because others would notice (or I would let them know about it) and assist as needed.

          1. Extranon*

            I’m actually very sympathetic to this! Depending on managerial style, a first-time professional job holder might not know how to escalate an issue like this, or when it’s appropriate. Or, if they assume everyone is hyper-competent, might also feel that pressure to be hyper-competent themselves and so not ask for help when they need it, or feel they’re supposed to handle things on their own and not actually know the way to do that.

            A first job has a huge learning curve just in how to be a professional! And if no one’s told OP how to handle this, it’s not actually something intuitive.

            1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

              I wasn’t questioning why OP let it go for this long. I was wondering how OP’s boss or someone at a higher level wasn’t asking questions, or wondering why it’s been so long to get this resolved. Even if OP is new to the professional world and is unaware of how things work, someone above them should be questioning why this wasn’t handled sooner.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Seems to me like a reasonable thing for an early-career person to realize and mention. Most people, at some point in our lives, go from assuming that most adults know more about a given situation than we do and would do a better job at whatever it is they’re doing than we would, to slowly realizing that grown-ups are faking their way along too and you may or may not have the relevant piece of information or experience that means you do, in fact, know more about some part of their job than they do.

        I mean, most 5 year olds are not going to know more about how to a given job than the adult currently doing it, and would probably screw it up if they tried. By 25, that’s true of fewer jobs and situations, which is why 25 year olds can get hired for a wide range of opportunities closed to kindergartners.

        I remember when I first realized that I might well understand the field of statistics better than my doctor did. That was kind of a scary realization. (She certainly knew more about the actual practice of medicine than I did, since that’s what she studied and I didn’t, but I probably had a clearer handle on things like the base rate fallacy that come into play with whether testing for a given condition makes sense because I spend a lot more professional time on statistics, studies, and how to interpret that kind of thing than she did. It meant that I needed to pay attention and ask good questions when she recommended things, since I had information to contribute that she might not to go along with the information that she had and I did not.)

        1. tangerineRose*

          “which is why 25 year olds can get hired for a wide range of opportunities closed to kindergartners.” I love this!

      3. Blarg*

        I don’t know; I think it could come from the idea that like all your teachers and professors are great and if you aren’t succeeding, it is on you, which I certainly experienced. Early in your career, especially in the non-profit sector, The Mission is drilled into you, and the idea that anyone would kind of shirk that is not acknowledged. If you’ve worked in retail and restaurants, where people are treated as expendable, it may be a rude awakening in an office environment.

      4. beanie gee*

        I work with a lot of junior staff and can confirm they think everyone who has been at the company longer than they have knows how to do everything and are amazing at their jobs and never struggle with anything.

        It takes some time for them to realize we’re all continuously learning how to be more competent, how to do new things, or how to do old things better.

      5. tuesday last?*

        Not at all. Sounds exactly like my daughter, who is in her 2nd job, expects the world to work. It completely rings true as an early-career expectation.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, it seems like an understandable expectation for someone new to the work force.

    3. Reliquary*

      I don’t believe the OP meant this in a passive-aggressive way at all.

      I am a college professor at a very reputable institution in a major city. For the last couple of decades, many college graduates have had a terrible time breaking into the job market. Some of them honestly believe that one must be a superhero to actually get an interview.

      These are young people with terrific academic accomplishments, who have had job internships, who have really prepared themselves well for employment. When I was graduated from college, it was SO much easier to get a job than it is now.

      1. Agnes*

        Not to mention the sort of comment that comes up all the time – “School groupwork isn’t like the real world! In the real world, people get fired if they don’t pull their weight!”

        1. JustaTech*

          Which is why it was bizarre to me when, in grad school, my professors asked my group if we wanted to give one group member a lower grade because she’d gotten mono and was on bedrest. This was grad school for people already in professional careers, so we were all super confused.
          If someone at work got mono and was put on bedrest we wouldn’t dock their pay or demote them, we’d just work around it because people get sick and that’s life. My boss sure didn’t fire me when I got a terrible stomach bug in the middle of an experiment, he sent me home and worked around it.
          (It was extra weird because this classmate had already done her portion of the project.)

  9. Kes*

    Yeah, five months is a long time to be trying over and over in the same way to reach someone unresponsive. I want to say I would have escalated after a few weeks or a month, although admittedly I’m in a totally different field and role. I would suggest as others have mentioned, keeping your boss in the loop and escalating on your side whenever you aren’t able to make things progress – they may have opinions on how and when to proceed and in many cases they would be the one to reach out across at the higher level.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yes! That’s what I thought Alison left out. You should have gone over his head by now.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Agreed. At reading 5 months I started to worry that OP will be the one whose performance eval is in jeopardy for NOT escalating this appropriately in a timely manner…especially over payment of a contract. This isn’t inconsequential.

      But honestly, after 5 months of no payment, it sounds to me like the money isn’t coming, contract or not.

    3. Batty Twerp*

      Five months also puts it outside the “excuse” of COVID – assuming you sent this letter within the last week that means you’ve been trying since the start of the year – for arguments’ sake January to May. That means only 2 and a half months of pandemic had followed 2 and a half months of ignoring you. (Unless you are based in China or Thailand where the first reported cases were in January)

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      Agreed. 5 months for what I do would be… absurd to wait.

      However, I do compliance things, so generally what I do cannot wait 5 months. I would have been escalating (depending on what it was) within 2 weeks to 1 month. However, escalating may be cc’ing my boss in, reaching out to someone on their team to see if there’s just a bad vacation overlap with no OOO reminder, or going all the way up and reaching out to their boss. But I fully acknowledge my cutoffs have to be much more abrupt than what a lot of other roles/responsibilities/etc may be.

      (Shoutout to the vendor who I was requesting a quote for a large compliance system from, which feasibly could have been $2 mill, and took months and months to get back to me…. then got snitty when I told them we had already selected a system pursuant to the timeline that was in the quote request, so no thank you.)

  10. NYC Taxi*

    Don’t feel bad about escalating. Perfect advice from Alison. It’s likely the funding is either delayed in some way or not happening, and the person is waiting for someone higher up in the corporate food chain to address it with your leadership but it hasn’t happened. As the first step I would also start ccing your boss when you’re not getting any response to see if that elicits action, and to have it on record with your boss that you’ve been trying to get this done.

    1. JSPA*

      Heck, it could have been embezzled (on either end!) or wired to the wrong bank account; this is not a, “wait until they’re ready to chat about it” moment. This is potentially time-sensitive stuff of a high order.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      This has happened to me from the other side. Someone is reaching out for info they rightly expect, and higher ups are telling me NOT to respond because something has changed and it can’t be addressed right now–or it can’t be addressed BY ME. Meaning, our ED has to call their ED type situation. Five months is way too long for this to hang, though. The longest I’ve had to twist in the wind/let someone else twist has been a week, and that felt like torture as the poor person tried emailing/calling/going over MY head (to someone also instructed not to respond). Ick. Escalate. Whatever is going on it’s high time it got dealt with directly.

  11. emmelemm*

    Five months is such a long time, and the fact that you seem to know he’s been communicating with others, lean toward the idea that something bad is up with the money, and they just don’t want to tell you that the money is not coming/late/whatever.

    Either way, you’ve got to go over his head, because they need to tell you what the situation is.

  12. TotesMaGoats*

    This is my biggest problem right now. One office on campus, let’s call it Llama Financing, is being super slow to get back to stakeholders. Internal and external. I get it that things are so much harder now that they are remote and a small team to begin with BUT if people aren’t able to pay their bill or ask questions…we won’t have any more customers. They will leave.

    I hate having to go over people’s head just to get a response. I would be ashamed if someone had to do that to get a response from me. However, you are leaving my students hanging, I’ll do what’s necessary. Doesn’t help when the customer goes to the president and says by name that Totes is the only person she can get info from and not the person who should be giving it.

  13. Ann O'Nemity*

    My first thought is that the other charity doesn’t have the money or doesn’t want to pay now. It’s not so much that Percival is lazy; it’s more that he doesn’t know how to have the hard conversation of, “We know that we are contractually obligated to pay you, but we can’t afford to do it now.”

    1. Malarkey01*

      Another possibility is that his organization has told him to slow walk you because they don’t intend to follow through with the grant. I was once in the position where someone was contacting me for updates and I’d been told “do not provide any updates on abc”- it was a rock and a hard place. I really wish they had escalated it so I could stop appearing to be the clueless unresponsive person.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      That was my thought: The money isn’t coming and either the contact doesn’t want to say so or he’s under orders from his own superiors to ignore and stonewall the LW.

  14. Bex*

    Agreed! I had to go over someone’s head in a very similar situation to the Letter Writer’s, except that the issue was very time-sensitive because the same contract included a very strict deadline for my organization to pass some of the funds on to others. I escalated either at the end of the first business day that I hadn’t heard back or first thing the next morning, I can’t remember for sure (after a previously quick-paced email exchange suddenly went silent). I did it by sending another email to my contact explaining why I couldn’t move forward until I heard from him, and cc’d his boss. It was very effective – I got what I needed immediately. In addition, my original contact did get fired as a direct result of this incident, and I have sometimes told the story as one where I “got someone fired” – but clearly, he got himself fired.

  15. Lifelong student*

    I worked for a not-for-profit. We had a funding issue similar to this. I waited for some time, then began to become more assertive with the person I was dealing with, only to get “we are working on it.” Finally I asked whose desk it was sitting on- only to find it was the person who I had been dealing with. Only when I pushed did we get resolution after that- it took over a year but we finally received our $118,324. I have that number burned into my brain 12 years later!

  16. hbc*

    Even if you’re 100% sure that it’s about incompetence, never, ever make it about the person’s incompetence. It only muddies the water. You need something that they’re not providing.

    I would make that focus crystal clear in your “warning” contact. “Hi, Fergus, I haven’t heard back anything about the grant, and we really need an answer about the timeline. If there’s another person I should be talking to, please let me know by tomorrow. I’ll try to reach you through [the admin/main number/general org inquiries email], and then I believe the next person who might have the information is Jane. Thanks, hope to speak with you soon!”

  17. Turquoisecow*

    This is super timely for me because I just went through something similar with a coworker. It was 3 weeks rather than 5 months, and her boss and mine had been copied on the email from the start. My boss got a new boss, though, and when I brought up the issue to her (this being part of a large pattern of non response from that department in general but especially this coworker), she not only urged me to copy her as well, but promised to take my issue up the chain if it persisted.

    In every discussion with both new grandboss and my existing boss, I emphasized that I didn’t know what the other department has going on right now (even more true since were all remote), and that obviously with everyone working from home maybe it was more difficult to stay on task, however, the task was important because of x, y, and z. Grandboss and direct boss both immediately said that yes, they were busy, but that was no excuse for not replying to me for that long.

    And if the person had said “sorry I’m swamped but I’ll get back to you,” or answered a portion of my email, that would have been understandable. But complete silence. Given that what I was asking for was important – and what OP is asking for is even more important! – if the boss says go over his head, go over his head.

    One of the hardest things for me to learn in my jobs has been priorities, and that’s where I’ve leaned on my bosses: “I have two tasks – which is more important? Should I drop everything to take care of this new task, or should I do that after an existing task?” If boss says this takes priority and I should go over someone’s head, then that’s enough clarity for me.

  18. Silence may not equal Incompetence*

    I’ve been on the other side of exactly this issue, and it wasn’t because of any sort of procrastinating or willful ignoring on my part – it was entirely because my employer had specifically instructed me to address all inquiries about a specific grant with silence. No apologies, no reassurances or updates, no nothing. The backstory was that there had been some improper procedure in the selection of the grant recipients and the whole thing was tied up by the board and their lawyer until they could figure out a way to get themselves out of the mess. But they didn’t want anybody to know what they’d done, or that the grant was in any danger of not being paid.
    In that situation, if somebody had gone above my head to my supervisor they would have encountered the same silence. I felt bad about the situation but I wasn’t allowed to respond in any way.

    1. Observer*

      Ah, then your user name is not correct. YOU were not the incompetent one. But your boss and the Board were most definitely being incompetent.

    2. CM*

      I was thinking the same thing! The OP is assuming that Percival will be in big trouble over this, but I think that goes along with their idea that people are hyper-competent. It’s equally possible Percival has been told not to get back to this grant recipient because the organization doesn’t have the money.

      1. Amy Sly*

        And if so, Percival will not (or at least should not) be in trouble for not responding, because he’s obeying instructions.

    3. Reliquary*

      This is a situation that has gone beyond incompetence and has risen to the level of malice.
      I am not saying you were malicious, but I am saying your employer was.

  19. sb51*

    Yup, go over his head. Have your manager read your email before you send it since you haven’t done this before — your manager can make sure it’s the right level of forceful vs cooperative for your organization to send, or might volunteer to send it for you to get it looked at faster if that’s needed.

    1. JerryTerryLarryGary*

      Or, after 5 months of not escalating within either organization, is OP not doing their own job properly?

      1. Leslie Knope*

        I think 5 months is a bit long, but leading with compassion and empathy is really important and people don’t do it enough. Especially now, it doesn’t hurt to assume ‘they’re probably struggling with COVID changes’ or ‘they must have other priorities’ or ‘it probably just slipped their mind’ first before going to ‘this person sucks at their job.

  20. Long Time Nonprofit Employee*

    At this point, you are probably more likely to get an answer if the messaging is sent peer-to-peer – as in your CEO reaching out to the other nonprofit’s CEO. Or your CFO to the other org’s CFO. Or your Chief Development Officer to their CFO or Chief Development Officer, if they have one. I would think that after 5 months, isn’t your board of directors wondering when the money is going to come in?

  21. Erstwhile Lurker*

    I wouldn’t feel bad about copying in the persons boss, the issue is with his refusal to communicate, nothing that you are doing. Leaving someone waiting for a reply is rude and extremely unprofessional.

    I’m in a similar situation now, where our offshore IT support are dragging their heels with installing a piece of software vital for my role. After numerous escalations we are now sitting at 6 weeks late, against a 5 day turnaround time. I suspect the issue is that it takes about 4 hrs to install, nonetheless, it looks like its time to ink the e-quill pen and copy in grand-boss *cracks knuckles*

  22. not neurotypical*

    One practical piece of advice for this one, based on a nearly identical situation: Are you 100% sure that he is seeing your emails? My nonprofit had a problem when messages were being routed to a funder’s spam folder. So, if you haven’t yet picked up a telephone and called, rather than just emailing, try that before doing anything else.

    1. JustaTech*

      Given that OP said they’d called, unlikely, but for a while my company wasn’t getting any emails from anyone in France. Where one of our suppliers is based. They weren’t going to spam, they were straight-up not getting through. We only found out when one of them called me (which we never do because of the time difference).
      I ended up having to use my personal email with them for a few days until we could get the problem with our email sorted out.

  23. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — Yes, it’s time to escalate this. One caution: you should brief your own manager before you contact your non-responsive counterpart. Some managers may want to take over themselves at this point, and go straight to No Show’s manager themselves, rather than have you do it.

    I’m not saying that this is the best, or the only, way to do it. But you don’t want to guess wrong here, so definitely talk with your manager first.

    1. Sister Michael*

      I came here to say a similar thing. Sometimes the politics of it dictate that you escalate to your boss, and your boss is the appropriate person to escalate with the other organization.

      I had a not-dissimilar situation where my counterpart in another organization had contacted me because we were doing similar work and wanted to collaborate on our study of (say) nutrition in different types of llama feed. We focused on grass, they focused on hay, and when they heard had started looking into hay, they said they’d like to keep the credit for the work on hay but that they’d share with us so please don’t research hay. (That sounds dumb, but in our field it’s a perfectly valid way to work and we were happy to hear from them and considered it mutually beneficial.)

      And then (stop me if you saw this coming) they never actually gave us data about hay and in order to have something to compare the grass to, we wound up having to research hay anyway. When it started to be come an issue, where they were unhappy we were researching hay but also weren’t actually sharing their findings even when we asked very nicely, my team gave our boss a heads’ up that this was happening. We weren’t getting anywhere on our own and it isn’t our boss’s place to call another person’s employees and tell them what they need to do, so he called their boss and approached it from a perspective of, “We’d love to cooperate but were having trouble coordinating our research. How would you like us to communicate with your team?” and that went over great and we were able to cooperate and work together better after that.

      The takeaway for me was that I don’t need to solve these problems by myself and that I may actually be the wrong person to solve them. I just didn’t have any authority behind my words, and I didn’t have a firm grasp on the organizational politics. Somebody above brought up a situation where they had been asked not to answer a particular type of request, and in case it’s something like that, your boss might still be in a position to get an answer of some kind, or might have the industry understanding to read between the lines of an answer like, “The process has changed significantly and we’re reviewing requests in a new way this year.” (Or similarly vague wording).

  24. Khatul Madame*

    Does the offending staff member have a backup? I find it hard to imagine an email from one organization to another that is only addressed to one person.
    OP, “I’m very aware I could get this guy fired, maybe” – this is another naive misconception. If you are a junior staffer, it is highly unlikely you can get anyone fired.

  25. Persephone Underground*

    I used to do a lot of outside follow up at my job, and sometimes I had this problem. My boss recommended after I’d tried the contact maybe three times (a few days apart at least) and tried calling as well, and gotten 0 response, that I should email their boss but cc them, asking if they still work there as I have attempted to contact them several times and received no reply. That worked well, and sometimes it really did get a “Oh, they did leave/transfer, here’s the new contact person.” If they *did* still work there I’d get a prompt response because they didn’t want that perception to get around! This was also in the hotel industry, where even the back office staff do move around frequently, so was less passive aggressive than a perfectly logical question to ask after that many contact attempts.

    1. Persephone Underground*

      I sometimes finessed the wording with checking the contact info was correct.

  26. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Before you do anything else, have you called them? And left at least two voicemails? I’m a millennial too, and I know that calling someone is usually the less preferred method of communication, but it does have the advantage of you being able to say to your manager “I’ve e-mailed, called, and left multiple voicemails with no response.” Because I guarantee you the first thing your manager will say when you tell them Percival isn’t answering your e-mails is “Have you called him?”
    Also have you turned on read receipts for Percival? That might tell you if he is even seeing your e-mails.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yup. I detest read receipts, but usually because they’re overused or inappropriately used (no, coworker, you do not need to send literally everything out read receipt, gah). This is a very appropriate time to use it.

        I have had colleagues tell me they know when I’m starting to escalate a nonresponse because I start including delivery/read receipts. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to make a point of no, seriously, I need that info, but it’s also very useful to see if your emails are actually getting opened & read or if they’re just going into the Great Digital Abyss.

        1. Email.
        2. Follow up email.
        3. Phone call to person if possible.
        4. Follow up to the follow up, but with delivery/read receipt.
        5. Second follow up phone call.
        6. Follow up email with Boss cc’d & receipts.
        7. Firm email from Boss (sometimes with Person’s Boss cc’d, depending).
        8. EC finally gets an answer OR Boss doesn’t get response, gets irritated, and starts lighting fires until Thing That Is Needed is done OR Boss’s Boss gets wind of it, gets irritated, and lights much larger fires until Thing Is Done.

        In my emails I also will put due dates (if applicable) in the subject and in bold in the email itself, so that it is abundantly clear that this is not Informational, this is Task, and I need it by Date from Person (if multiple people are on the string). There is no “well I didn’t know” when you have the email with bullet points with due dates.

      2. Bubbles McPherson*

        There is no appropriate use of read receipts except to piss people off.

      3. Steveo*

        The receiver can disable them, I do this every time I setup a new laptop or mail client. In other words, it’s not a guarantee and I think they are annoying enough given that to not be worth it.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          A lot of places will block read receipts from outside domains, too. So even if you can use them within your company, you might not be able to use them on Percival.

    1. BRR*

      That was my first reaction too! Upon rereading I saw the LW has called them though.

      I don’t find read receipts helpful not only because they’re annoying like others have mentioned, but that they’re optional for the recipient (unless I’m wrong on that one).

  27. JSPA*

    First, check how long it normally takes to get funds sent out from them. If nonessential businesses have been or still are shut, and you don’t know them to we working from home, factor that in as well. They may be a longstanding cesspool of dysfunction, or may only be equipped to do certain financial things on site.


    Sometimes it helps to list options.

    Dear X;

    Trying to get clarity on the situation, and some indication that these emails are reaching you.

    1. Was the money sent? If so, when, and in what form? We’ll need all the information you can supply, if so, to track where it went, as it did not reach us.

    2. If not, are you in theory currently able to send the money (per the contract), and if so, what steps remain before that can happen? What’s a realistic timeline on that?

    3. Are you currently unable to send the money? Any sense of timeline or circumstances will let us know [whether to cut or furlough people / which services we will have to suspect and for how long /whatever other specific consequence, presented in neutral, factual, non-accusative language].

    Thank you for whatever clarity you can provide and [some positive mission-specific statement of keeping one’s chin up for the greater good],

    If the check has gone missing, some people will default to, “ugh, we sent it, they cashed it, they’re just a mess, I’m ignoring this” or “NoNoNoNoNo can’t think about that I’m a failure.”

    If there’s a signature they’re waiting on, and they’re frustrated beyond all reason by standing dysfunction at their org, or the person with signing authority has died or is hospitalized, being asked for steps and a timeline (and being presented with the fact that you’re wondering if the check was lost or stolen!) may bust them loose long enough to at least say, “I don’t know how I can get the signature, or who even has signing authority now.”

  28. Aggretsuko*

    This is what I have to do with my onsite apartment manager because she is absolutely awful about getting anything done or getting back to you. I hate to be That Person, but she really requires it of me to have to go over her head to her boss. Same situation here, I think!

  29. Steveo*

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you aren’t getting that money – or he would have replied already.

  30. TheLizardOfOz*

    Honestly, I’d happily settle for everyone at work being just competent, nevermind hypercompetent.

    1. Twin Otter*


      I was dinged in my annual assessment for asking a colleague some questions that they should have known the answer to – but didn’t. Apparently I a) shouldn’t have asked colleague any questions and b) I should have known that colleague didn’t know the answers (when they should have!) and so shouldn’t have asked them in the first place.

      Even vaguely competent would be nice.

  31. AKchic*

    Don’t feel bad about escalating. Especially when you are trying to collect money that is needed for your own non-profit.
    Evening emailing again, with a cc to your boss and a cc to the other person’s boss with something like “hey, I’ve tried emailing [insert name here] on X dates (list all email dates, maybe even with emails attached as proof) and tried calling on X dates at Y times and have gotten no responses to any of my communications. If [insert name here] is out of the office due to the covid-19 crisis, could I please have the contact information for the individual handling [insert name here]’s job duties in the interim? If [insert name here] is in the office, could I please get a timeframe on when to expect [insert whatever language you’d like for the money owed to you] which was due on [insert original due date here].”

    A semi-competent slacker can claim email problems and say they didn’t receive your emails (or it went to junk/spam folders), but they can’t say they missed all of your calls and voicemails as well as your emails when they are obviously getting everyone else’s.

    I also have to wonder if your company is even going to see that money to begin with. 5 months is a long time to avoid someone. That speaks volumes to me.

  32. MA marketing assistant*

    I am also a millennial and I also get the assumption that everyone is hypercompetent. I’m good at what I do, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a field I kind of stumbled into without formalized training and so there’s probably some imposter syndrome going on there as well. But man! The incompetence that some people show! I genuinely don’t understand it. Like, when I ask if you’ve seen an email that you’re also cc’d on, it’s not my job to then go summarize your action points for you…… just go look at the email and let me know if you need my input! I swear.

  33. Ellie May*

    Yikes, I think I’d be concerned about looping my boss in at this point, knowing I’ll be asked, “Why did you wait so long to bring this to my attention?”

  34. Leslie Knope*

    I literally just had to do this, and I’ve clearly been reading AAM enough because I basically followed all this advice.

    I work in a very relationship oriented public agency, and have 1 task that I collaborate on with a person in another department. Other than this, we have no interaction, but I absolutely cannot complete it without their part. We had emailed back at the end of April about it, she said she was going to get started, and then…. nothing. I had been planning ahead so we had a little wiggle room, (and trying to be understanding), so I waited a month, I sent a follow up email, no response. Left a voicemail, no response. Left a voicemail for a member of her team who had been tangentially involved in the past, no response from him either.

    Last week, I started to get worried about our deadline, so I looked up her manager and sent an email with a LOT of cushioning language. “I know everyone has a lot going on right now” … “I’m not sure if she’s out of office or working on other priorities” …. “I’m only reaching out to you because of our deadline and I’m not sure how to proceed” …”please let me know if I should direct this work to someone else” etc. I still felt bad about it, because I really didn’t want to get her in trouble, but honestly something could have happened to her I didn’t know about!

    Worked like a charm, her manager got back to me right away, thanked me for the email and said she’d nudge. The staff person got back to me later that day. I think it’s important to lead with understanding and flexibility, but you also sometimes have to do this to get the work done.

  35. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

    A lot of the solutions proposed here still have to do with emailing. I hope this doesn’t sound too obvious, but have you tried picking up the phone?

    I hate to sound ageist, but a lot of younger staff in my office go to great length to avoid making phone calls under any circumstances. As a result, they often let things drag out for weeks/months, when a phone call can solve the problem in a single contact.

    1. Pibble*

      Per the last sentence of the second paragraph, yes, OP has tried phone calls and they have not gotten a response.

  36. vlookup*

    I work for a nonprofit and I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve been the unresponsive person both because my boss asked me to slow walk a payment for cash flow reasons and, for smaller scale stuff, because I had way too much on my plate and I chose to deprioritize/straight up forgot about something.

    Escalating an issue is a perfectly reasonable tactic as long as you’re not using it maliciously, and in this case it seems more than warranted. Just focus on what you need (details on when you’re going to receive the funds) and not on the incompetence or unprofessionalism of the person you’re dealing with.

  37. Bob*

    Do not feel guilty if this person is disciplined or fired. They have made their own bed and have to lie in it. You have been super extra nice, and you can’t save people from themselves. You can only give them options. Also lack of consequences means they feel more entitled to not do their jobs.
    That said you obviously feel very guilty here but part of life is learning that you can’t take the fall for other people, unless you want to go down with them.
    Be nice, give chances and don’t go out of you way to harm others but if people don’t do their job, trying to protect them only allows them to continue harming you and your organization. Cut the umbilical cord.

  38. Not So NewReader*

    Just wanted to add about the hyper-competent: nooo, most people are average people having average lives. And I include myself in that heap.
    I am wondering if some of this comes from a little impostor syndrome going on? But I guess it doesn’t really matter where it comes from. I can name maybe a handful of cohorts who have really wowed me over my working years. I can say, though, that most people I have worked with have done something at some point I thought was impressive.

    Do be aware of extremes such as “hyper-competent” or “totally INcompetent”. Usually what is happening is some where in that vast middle area.

  39. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    … and another thing!

    The person that the OP is dealing with may have been ordered to stonewall him/her by the boss you’re going to reach out to.

    The person you’re dealing may have two options = 1) do the right thing – comply with your request, and risk his/her job OR 2) be a good little do-bee and follow his boss’ orders.

    There have been times in my long, long, IS/IT career – where I refused to do the wrong thing. Once I refused to issue bogus info to help a manager fire someone, that was OK- my manager backed me up on that. But there were other times where I was asked to violate copyrights, and I refused — another time I was asked to write a pack of lies about a software situation, because a director wanted me to write a “research study” with a pre-determined result for political motives. I resigned, and then finally my manager and I worked out the conflict.

    Do not necessarily assume you’re being snookered by this one individual – he could, as we’re hearing in recent days, just be following orders. Escalating this one step may break the impasse. Then again, it may not but I’m hoping, for OP’s sake – that it does.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I might add – I never took an ethics course in college, but I did find an Ethics 101 textbook and read it , so it had the same effect on me, and my professional life, as if I had taken the course.

  40. fhqwhgads*

    I’m kind of confused on the timeline here. OP was trying to get in contact with Percival for five months, but it’s unclear if the grant were supposed to be funded five months ago? If this were something like the grant was approved and supposed to be funded say between March and May, and OP’s been trying to get a confirmed date of when to expect since end Feb and now it’s June… that’s a fairly different situation than if the money were contractually expected on January 31 and not only has it not been received but also no one’s responding.

  41. Shrugs*

    Maybe that guy just quit already? Someone was really pissed at me in a grocery store for not getting back to them, and it was a whole year after I had quit my job.

  42. OP*

    Hello, I’m OP.

    First off: I got some closure after this happened. (I’m not sure what changed, that I finally got through to the dude. I did not have to go over their head.) It was indeed a “not wanting to share bad news” situation. I don’t want to get into details, but that fact will color the rest of this comment.

    Some people have questioned my competence that I let the contact slide for so long. This is completely fair, and you’re pointing to real problems. I feel like a little more context is due: I feel like it’s less me and more my organization. (Yeah, I know that’s what I’d say if I’m bad at my job. Bear with me, please.)

    We’re a very small organization, and until I came on board, all information and decisions flowed through my boss. Now that he has someone he trusts (me), he throws me at as many projects as he can. (This is usually things due today, never anything with a longer timeline — so anything non-immediate stalls out indefinitely. I end up working on multiple “highly urgent” pet projects with no guidance or support; he thinks this makes him a good manager, who’s breeding self-sufficiency in his employees. (He’s out-and-out said he wants me to take over for him when he’s gone.)

    So I’m constantly treading water and trying to stay afloat. In this environment, lapsed contacts end up being the first thing to go: it’s not in front of my face and my boss isn’t prioritizing it, so it’s not something I end up pursuing. Is this right? Absolutely not, but it’s what (I’ve felt like) I need to do to keep going.

    All of this is beginning to change now that I’m starting to gain more independence in my role, and feel like I’m in more of a position to say no to tasks. Just in the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve had more space in my day. So I can set my own tasks and work on things my boss thinks are useless, like following up with people or doing basic paperwork. I have a literal pad of paper on my desk where I write down my tasks for the day, so even if my boss tears me away to work on something else I don’t get distracted or overwhelmed.

    I’m beginning to suspect some degree of this dysfunction is not unusual at all organizations. For all I know, Percival is playing the same game of the-hurrier-I-go-the-behinder-I-get that I always am. So I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, maybe to a fault.

    I love the organization I work for, and we do good work. There are things I genuinely love about my job, and it’s definitely the most “grown-up” job I have ever had. But if I were to write an Ask A Manager letter today, it would be something like — “how can I stop the bad things about my boss and my workplace from ruining my professional reputation?”

    And that’s something I’m gonna be thinking about for a while.


    1. Mary*

      The fact you’ve started to feel able to say no to things is definitely a good start! Good luck OP. :)

  43. Sparkly Librarian*

    I was trying to buy a house when the seller’s agent dropped off the face of the earth. He responded to an initial email from our agent almost right away, but then when we sent in our offer, he never got back to us. Multiple emails and calls went unanswered. He wasn’t responding to the sellers directly, either. When his work voicemail filled up and I couldn’t get through to anyone else in the office for a week, I actually checked obituaries and police reports to see if something tragic had happened. Eventually I used my research skillz to track down his boss’s cell number, and caught her on her way to a family funeral. I felt bad about that — but she really needed to know that her employee had gone MIA, and find us someone who *could* help. I connected her with our agent directly, and the sellers dropped the flaky guy, and I’ve owned this house for 6 years now. Still have no idea what happened to that guy.

  44. Soya Bean*

    Honestly, the only thing I enjoy about these situations is being the one to send the Narc email. I know this doesn’t reflect well on me as a person, and I don’t ever pull that trigger willy-nilly… but damn is it satisfying to put on my fustiest, most concerned tone and hit up their boss over it.

  45. Res Admin*

    I am somewhat on the other side of that situation. So I figured I would provide a different perspective. May or may not be worth thinking about, but a little self reflection never hurts–if just to re-assure yourself that you have done your part correctly.

    Our entity has had an agreement with another entity over the past several years to provide them funding for a project we have been working on together. The actual contract piece is annual, however a firm understanding that it would be for X years with annual budgets laid out for the full time frame. We are still within that time frame.

    We have not issued the annual contract and it has been over 6 months. The other side has been asking me about it repeatedly however (a) they have not been doing their part; (b) caused us to be late with federal reporting because they were trying to get us to give them more funding–which resulted in a loss of funding on our end; (c) their administrative staff was aggressive and rude; (d) my boss has been busy dealing with other (truly) more pressing issues.

    I have strict orders not to respond to them about anything. I have made certain boss is looped in on all queries. Boss likes and respects their counterpart at the other agency, but is so annoyed by their administrative staff that, at this point, Boss is avoiding dealing with it because it will be a huge headache. This should not be a surprise to them since we had to bring in some of the highest levels of our organization to resolve issues last time.

    I should also note that this other entity should have no real expenses for much of this time frame since they cannot perform 99% of what they are supposed to be doing during quarantine. So there is no way we can justify to our sponsor paying them as much as they are asking.

  46. Quill*

    Another thing Allison may not have considered: depending on the industry you work in and how up to date their payment systems are, it’s possible that they have been reliant on payment methods that can only be done in person, at a bank, or with physical documents. (I keep running into the same problem when I ask state government licensing agencies to send copies of our licenses for legal documents purposes. Several are still set up to only take cash, personal check, or personal card payments, and to say that it has become the bane of my existence is underselling the situation.)

  47. Michelle H*

    I completely agree with Alison here! Also, as someone who has worked for several non-profits and (unfortunately) been in the position at least once, I highly suggest framing any inquiries to the other person’s ED in terms of budgeting, etc. Something like: “Since we’re approaching the end of the fiscal year and working on our new budget, I am endeavoring to tie-up any loose ends from the 2019-2020 year. One of them is the X grant…” This can give them room to respond in case something happened and, for whatever reason, they feel unable to send you the money now. Also, it shows an immediate need.

    Oh, and another trick I learned is to reach out to the “you” (admin person) in that organization. Sometimes they can be super helpful.

  48. Dramamethis*

    Depending on how your structure, ( and thiers), I don’t know if this would be possible but you could try reaching out to their Accounts Payable dept if they have one.

    If the AP staff doesn’t have a request to process a payment or if the person you are reaching out to is gone, they can help push it up the chain internally.

    Good luck!

  49. Dramamethis*

    Depending on how your structure, (and thiers), is, I don’t know if this would be possible but you could try reaching out to their Accounts Payable dept if they have one.

    If the AP staff doesn’t have a request to process a payment or if the person you are reaching out to is gone, they can help push it up the chain internally.

    Good luck!

  50. Nonprofit Lifer*

    This is money owed to your organization by contract, and your organization has been able to let it go for 5 months? Especially this particular past 5 months? And your CFO and ED haven’t already been jumping all over it? Hell yes this needs to be escalated, like yesterday. Speaking as a 40+ year nonprofit CFO [and now a funder], my *assumption* is that the other organization has cash flow issues — like every other nonprofit in the country/world right now — and has spent your money on their operations and he’s dodging you to avoid an uncomfortable disclosure. His ED may or may not be aware of this, but you absolutely need to escalate to your boss and get this resolved at a higher level.

Comments are closed.