So, how many of you get nervous and anxious or feel awkward when you ask for money? Yes, that is not unusual, even those with long careers in non-profit development, are terrified of making face to face fundraising asks. After 25 years I still feel anxious.
But you can’t run a nonprofit without making the ask.
It’s that simple.
You can make the ask through mail, through email, through advertising, through social media, over the phone. But the most transformational asks are made face-to-face.
So, I discovered I had to make a shift in my mindset and embrace a culture of philanthropy. The word philanthropy translates from the Greek to mean love of humankind.
Think philanthropy, not fundraising.
When you dig down to your love of your mission, and speak from your heart, there’s nothing to be afraid of. No one will think you’re a terrible actor—because you won’t be acting!
Philanthropy, not fundraising, will shift you and your board from feeling negative to feeling positive.
So, what are those fears? Here are the 4 basic ones.
1. Fear of begging for money.
2. Fear of looking stupid.
3. Fear of rejection.
4. Fear of public speaking.
Let’s address those fears one by one.
1. FEAR OF BEGGING FOR MONEY
Money is a taboo subject! We don’t like to talk about money. Most of us were raised to believe it is impolite and crass, at worst. Even religion, sex, and politics are better discussion topics as far as most of us are concerned.
Where money is concerned, we tend to come from a place of “no.” And people think fundraising is all about money. But, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Because if you stop to think about it, no one gives your organization $1,000 of their hard-earned money because they just have no place else to put it. It’s not about the money. It’s about what you’ll be able to do with the money. In other words, it’s all about the impact.
You must let go of the tin cup mode of fundraising. You aren’t asking people to give you money for your personal use. No! You’re offering them the opportunity to make an impact that aligns, hopefully, with their values. Giving them an opportunity to invest not donate to in your mission.
2. FEAR OF LOOKING STUPID
What if you don’t know every detail of every program? Ever have a board member tell you, the fundraiser, that you better do the asking because you know more about the program than they do? Nonsense! No one needs to know everything. In fact, all those facts and figures are not what move donors to contribute.
Substitute passion for data. If those asking believes in the mission and walks the talk (by giving before asking), that’s all that is needed. I often tell board members it’s not so much what you say, but how you say it. Connecting with your passion for your cause is much more important than memorizing every detail of every program.
You can always get back to donor prospects with more information later. Never be afraid to admit you don’t know something. Try “That’s a great question! I don’t know the answer, but I’ll definitely find out for you and get right back to you. Or, if you’d like, I can set up a meeting with our program director.” This makes you look accommodating and, when you follow through, you establish trust. Instead of looking stupid, I think this is darn smart!
3. FEAR OF REJECTION
This ties back to the feeling you’re begging. We don’t like to have to ask for help. But, remember, you’re not asking for yourself. You are asking for those you serve!
Go into the meeting imagining that your nonprofit is exactly what the donor is looking for—a great place to invest their hard-earned money instead of imagining we’re bugging them.
If your prospect says, “No,” that’s okay. Maybe your mission doesn’t float their boat, and they have other philanthropic interests. It may mean no not now. Just remember, receiving no from a donor ask visit is not defeat. Don’t let your ego get bruised. Time for you to move on to the next donor meeting and offer up your wonderful philanthropic opportunity to someone who may be more receptive at that time.
4. FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING
Making an ask can feel a bit like being put on the spot to perform. And most people hate that. So much, in fact, that fear of public speaking is listed as number one on the Book of List’s Top 10 List of Fears. Death is way down at number seven. “I guess we’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”
So, I will say sometimes overcoming that fear means “faking it ’til you’re making it.
Don’t walk in the door saying, “I know I’m probably the last person you wanted to see.”
Don’t think to yourself, “I’m going to twist his arm to make a donation.”
The antidote to fear is education
We, humans, are often afraid of things we don’t know or don’t understand.
You can address this fear by teaching your board (and everyone else) how fundraising works, what motivates donors, etc.
I hope this helps. Let me know in the comments. Sharing is Caring.
PLUS, as a SPECIAL BONUS for reading my blog, I am offering a thirty-minute LIVE coaching session with YOURS TRULY…someone with years of hard-won nonprofit wisdom that you can talk to like your best friend (letting it all out). This FREE 30-minute coaching call to solve your biggest dilemmas goes down when you want! Just schedule your call by clicking here.
If you are a CEO or ED of a nonprofit organization and want to learn from me and others join the Supporting World Hope Facebook Group.
You can follow me on Instagram @the_nonprofitexpert and other social media platforms @supportingworldhope: Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest.