Fundraising (and Investment-Raising) You Can Feel Good About

Fundraising (and Investment-Raising) You Can Feel Good About


Fundraising (and investment-raising) you can feel good about: this is a collector of charitable donations in 1896 Russia. Image: Czech photographer František Vojtěch Krátký. Source: Scheufler Collection.

Fundraising and Investment-Raising You Can Feel Good About

There are three things I tell soul-colleagues who are new to fundraising about fundraising that bring them great relief:

    1. Fundraising doesn’t have to make you want to throw up (before, during, or after).
    2. It doesn’t have to violate your principles.
    3. You don’t control how much you receive, only how much you ask.

This post explores each of these in more depth.

1. Fundraising doesn’t have to make you want to throw up.

If you feel nauseated by the thought of asking for money (and I mean as directly as possible, face-to-face being most successful) or if you want to throw up once you have completed an ask, or even (oops) during an ask, you are not alone. But what makes you want to throw up is not fundraising, it’s fear. There’s nothing about fundraising that need make you want to vomit. (See #2.)

Fear comes from attachment to the results of your fundraising. (See #3.)  Cut that attachment. Your job as fundraiser is to ask for, not do, the giving. You have no idea if your donor(s) will give nor any idea how much they will give.(See #3.) You can (and should) estimate (ask me for a reference to an article on how to do this), then divide by half–either asking twice as many donors you’ve estimated will give your estimated amounts or downsizing your estimated total by half, or for very special reasons asking for a larger gift than originally estimated: asking for more “because we need it” or “because doing too much fundraising makes me throw up” are not “very special reasons.” There is no reason anyone should give you more–only reasons they might want to. The welcoming space you invite them into helps them want to. This space is made way more welcoming by detaching your welcome from their decision. (Meaning: you will enjoy their remaining close to your cause no matter what they decide. This energy in and of itself is magic.) 

2. It doesn’t have to violate your principles.

If you care about your cause, you can fundraise for it in good conscience. You have every right to ask and no right to “make” anyone give. What makes fundraisers violate their principles is unclarity about these things, or about money itself. Money doesn’t “make” us do anything. It is not good fundraising to go cheap for donations–of ANY size. If you violate your principles in the short term, they don’t suddenly become unviolated at some point over the long-term.

Fundraising also feels good because there are so many ways to do it that you can fundraise in any legal way you want to, though some are more successful than others. If it’s legal, chances are very good it’s also ethical. From this large subset then of legal, ethical fundraising, you can choose methods that are most successful, most fun for you, easiest, and in the proper timing. (Ask me for references to articles on figuring out what methods these are for you and your cause.)

 3. You don’t control how much you receive, only how much you ask.

The guarantee that you can feel good about fundraising is that you are NEVER responsible for how much you raise (the gifts you receive), only for how much you ask.

Be real: can you control the pen of the person writing you a check? or inputting their credit card information on your donations page? can you control their thoughts and desires? would you want to if you could? (If you answered “yes,” yuck, reread #2. What the heck, reread #1 as well). Fundraising is where you get that it is ALL ABOUT YOU and NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU at the same time. (And you wondered what clarity had to do with abundance.) It’s all about you ASKING. It’s all about them CHOOSING TO GIVE.

So review the twice/half discussion in #1, above, and use it to determine how many people you will ask for how much when.  This is your responsibility. Make a calendar of asks, and go forth and ask! But when you ask, INVITE. Welcome givers to your neck of the Beloved Community. ALL givers. Thank everyone you ask–and thank those who give a second time. This applies not only to donors you reach personally, via methods including face-to-face, voice-to-voice, personal email or personal letter (yes, these are still used for reaching certain folks). I would also find it a welcome energy to be used with crowd-funding. Thank people for considering giving. And then thank those who give.

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