Fundraising: Get Out of Jail

Fundraising: Get Out of Jail

Two beautiful old buildings across from each othre beneath a lattice of bars looking out at the sky.

If a fundraising problem seems intractable: get out of jail. What can look like a problem is sometimes a prison you created. Image  by Tim Evanson.

Our Subscriber’s Fundraising Question

This week’s question comes from another of our dear subscribers*:

I have a hard time convincing even some of my closest allies about some of my ideas, even facing outright ridicule from friends. I have come to accept that it may take 30 years to convince a significant number of people of ideas I already have today.

This has left me feeling unable or unwilling to even try to raise money for my most passionate work, feeling that my ideas can’t face that level of scrutiny while I am still so constrained to express them. How do I overcome this? How can I continue to develop my work despite this?

We answered last week’s question by pointing out the wholeness underlying what looked like conflict. Today, we will need to point out the conflict in what looks like wholeness.

Is It A Problem or A Prison?

Wholeness that feels negative is self-reinforcing, a prison you can’t get out of. It feels like doom. The wholeness in our subscriber’s question is a prison: my ideas are too far ahead of their time, no one gets/likes them, so I can’t raise money to develop them.

Get Out of Jail: Look at the Structure of the Question

Like last week, we find the solution this week in the structure of the problem. The problem only looks like a prison. It only looks self-reinforcing and inescapably whole. If you take it apart, you see it:

  1. my ideas are too far ahead of their time: I think my own ideas are a problem
  2. no one gets my ideas: I think other people’s reaction to my ideas are a problem
  3. I can’t raise money to develop my ideas: I think I have to convince a lot of people to think something other than what I think they think before I think I can raise money to develop my ideas.

Putting the Fun Back in Fundraising

The great thing about a fundraising prison of our own making is that we can knock down any wall we want and then feel free to fundraise.

Which wall to knock down first? Well, which wall is more fun to knock down first? “Fun” is a game-changer here because this prison is made of doom. Finding the fun in the prison takes the prison apart. As Mary Poppins said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”  Here is how to find the fun in each part of the whole:

  • I am the smartest person I know in the arena of my ideas. I am a leader whose task includes seeding my ideas in small ways and large throughout my culture. I can hold an essay contest to get people to respond to my ideas with a fun prize! (A branded prize, of course, that promotes your ideas.)
  • People may understand my ideas better if I put them in the mouths of others more famous or simply accepted than I am. I can quote other thinkers, historic and modern, whose ideas lend support to mine.
  • As a thought-leader, my developing my thoughts is deserving of funding. I raise money to develop my ideas before I try to develop the ideas into action.

Fundraising is Not the Problem

For a fundraiser like our questioner, fundraising is not hard. This questioner is in need of a kind of funding that implies seeing one’s ideas as a treasure, or a garden to be cultivated. There are grants to nonprofits, and then there are grants to individuals: fellowships, writer’s retreats, scholarships, awards. (You can sign up for a whole month of access to the world’s best database on grants to individuals (IMHO) for $19.95. I did this last year!)

Seeing the problem correctly helps us see what we need to address it. Then the prison walls  fall into a whole new wholeness. Questioner: let us know if this works, privately or in a comment to this post. And readers: if you find this post useful, tell us how: does it apply to anything you are working on and needed help seeing in a fresh way?


*Like last week’s post, this week’s great question was submitted by a subscriber. I’m grateful to answer questions submitted by our subscribers having to do with peaceful, ethical  fundraising and money management in the RAISING CLARITY blog. And I’m proud to reward fruitful questions with free coaching. So maybe you should subscribe?!

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