Every fundraiser, at one point or another, has dreaded picking up the phone to call a donor. Or hesitated to make the ask during a meeting. Let's face it, our culture does not make asking for money easy. If you're fundraising in Europe or Australia, it's ten times harder. Donors outside the U.S. are used to government services providing for many of the services that non-profits are forced to tackle in the states. Even so, asking for cash even in America is taboo, uncomfortable, undesirable. And yet, we must!
If we want our organizations to succeed, we have to ask for money and we have to ask for it ALL THE TIME. So getting your money mindset in order is crucial. You have to get over the fears and discomfort of asking for money and embrace the all out success that comes with overcoming this particular cultural obstacle.
Here's how you can mentally prepare yourself to ask, and get, big $$:
1. Take out a pen and paper, or pull up a new document to write in. Now, envision going to your biggest donor, sitting down with them and asking them to double their gift. What thoughts pop into your head? Write them all down. They'll say no and never donate again. They'll laugh at me. They'll make that pained expression when you've asked a donor for too much - I hate that expression. Write all of the thoughts down. It's important to face your fears about asking for money. Now go through each fear and write down the worst possible outcome for each situation. They'll say no and never donate again and my boss will fire me and I'll be unemployed and eventually homeless. Now, read that again. Is that likely to happen? No. And even if you did get fired for loosing a donor, that's not the type of organization you really want to be working for anyway! You'll get another job, probably a better job with better pay and benefits and you'll move on. So, now that we've worked through all of the worst case scenarios and discovered that they are ridiculous, unlikely and irrational, get back to doing your kicka** job of raising cold hard cash!
2. Write a letter to money. Our culture touts money as the route of all evil, but how do you really feel about money? Do you hate it? Do you hate needing it? I once had an Executive Director tell me that they hated selling the mission of their racial justice organization to rich white people and begging them for cash. That's fair. Write down all of your feelings and beliefs about money. Once you've got everything out on paper, write money a second letter - a love letter. Tell money why you love it. What does it do for you? What does it do for your organization? Money is a resource, like water, air or trees. We have to use it wisely. All good things come from money. Your house, your food, the clean water you drink - everything. Money is the root of all good things. Write them all down in your love note. Now, which letter made you feel better? Want to supercharge your money mindset? Write money a little love note everyday when you sit down at your desk. Even if it's only a sentence. Dear Money - I love you. You keep a roof over my head and my car running. Today, I want to raise enough money so we can hire a new assistant for our overworked Executive Director. I know that you can do that for me, money. It would make such a positive difference for our organization! Thanks so much for showing up today, money. Love, Me. Watch more money flow into your organization than ever before.
3. Surround your work space with pictures of all the great things you're fundraising for. A picture of the new space your organization could rent with more money. A map of all the states your national organization could expand to with more funds. Pictures of all the colleagues you like and enjoy that could get a raise if your development department (or you) exceeds your goals this year. A picture of what you're going to buy for yourself if you exceed your fundraising goal this year ;-) Having strong visuals to remind you of your end goal is super helpful for fundraising, because in the end, it's not really about the money - it's what you can do with it that matters!