Monday, November 2, 2015

Fundraising Paralysis: Facing What Freaks You Out

Are fundraising calls on your ongoing to-do list? Do those calls keep falling to the bottom of the list? Are you, in short, terrified?

In order to overcome your fear of fundraising you need to face what freaks you out. Here are six common fears, and how you can re-think them:
  • Fear of rejection: You're going to be turned down; on average 50% of good prospects will give. Your job is to know that being turned down has nothing to do with you personally. When people choose not to give, they do so for many reasons - it does not mean you are a bad person or that they hate you. And whether they give or not, every conversation you have is a great opportunity to educate folks about your organization and its programs.
  • Fear of failure: It's important to change your definition of success in fundraising. Success is how many times you ask. If you make all your asks, you get an A+.
  • Fear of looking stupid: No donor will expect you to know everything. And when someone asks you a question you can't answer, say, "That's a great question - thanks for asking! Let me talk with the Executive Director and get back to you." 
  • Fear of asking the wrong person: If you develop a strong database and do your homework, you will be asking the right people. Know that if if turns out you made a mistake, or someone is in the middle of a personal/fiscal crisis, you can always simply and graciously apologize.
  • Fear of alienating friends: Have you ever ended a friendship because someone asked you to contribute to a favorite cause? Have you ever lost or damaged a friendship because of a charitable request? If you make your asks with integrity and without blindsiding your friends unexpectedly, they may or may not give but they will not disinherit you. It helps to give them an out - "Please feel free to say no" or "If you choose not to participate, that's totally OK; we'll still be friends. But I sure hope you can help."
  • Fear of now knowing how to ask or what to say: You and your board should work together to identify key talking points and achievements, pinpoint good stories to tell, write a basic script, and practice with each other. But your most important job is to speak from the heart - focusing on your agency's mission, making a clear case, listening carefully, and inviting the donor to become involved. There are lots of fundraising techniques but they are far less important than your passion for your organization's good work.
Fundraising is not about your feelings - it's about the donor. Just as you feel good when you make a charitable donation to a cause you care about, you are giving the donor an opportunity to feel good. So take a deep breath, kick your fears out of the way, and go out and make those calls.

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