As I work on my organization’s spring fundraising campaign, my mind is on those people for whom fundraising feels like a terrifying venture. Few people want to admit they are afraid of fundraising. If you look at fundraising the wrong way, you assume you’ll feel guilty asking your personal friends and others in your network for money. And if you admit that asking them scares you, you may feel a sense of guilt if it seems like you’re letting your cause down.
The best way I’ve heard it explained to me is that fundraising is not about “begging friends for money.” It’s about joy. You feel it for your cause, and you can give your friends an opportunity to feel it too, by supporting something that matters to you and the world. There’s no shame in rallying support for a good cause!
Here are a few tips that have helped me get over my own fears of fundraising over the past several years:
- Start by asking some one you trust for feedback – I ran my fundraising letter by my mom! She already has good business savvy, and there’s no risk she’ll think less of me if my letter doesn’t rock her socks off right away (she’s my mom after all). Plus, getting feedback on your request opens the door for great dialogue and establishes trust. Not to mention, people love being asked for advice.
- Re: Mom. Yes, I also asked her for a contribution. If fundraising intimidates you, starting with people who love you and are likely to help out (or at least be able to tell you ‘no’ without risk of being annoyed) will encourage and empower you to keep going. If you’re intimidating, getting a few little ‘wins’ under your belt to start out will show you that you can truly do it.
- There’s a time to be professional, and a time to be yourself. Fundraising may seem like the time to flex your business savvy, but – perhaps counter-intuitively – it’s more important to just be yourself here. Be quirky. Be personal, fun, and warm, and genuine. Nobody wants to give money to a robot. They want to give money to a human being they care about who cares about a cause.
- If you’re fundraising for a cause, presumably you already have a passion for said cause. Why? Know your reasons – personal and otherwise – and explain them. You know that it’s not just about having money in a pot. It’s about being real about the resources you need to accomplish a big impact.
Trust your friends to have common sense and understand that it takes resources to make a huge difference. Reinforce that by showing them that your passion and trustworthiness will see those resources well-spent. Remember you’re not asking them for a hand-out. You’re asking them for an investment in improving lives and changing the community for the better! Everybody’s down for that.