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Being a Fearless Fundraiser

I suspect very few fundraisers dreamed of this profession when they were kids. Now, I know some folks were amazing at lemonade stands or selling products for their schools, but the idea of asking people for financial support isn’t for everyone.

The thought of asking someone for money strikes fear in the heart of many people. For example, how many nonprofit board members do you know who love to fundraise?

Common Fears

How do you overcome the very common fear of fundraising? What is behind the hesitation? According to Entrepreneur magazine, there are five fears we all face:

· Fear of rejection: This is a pretty universal experience and fear of rejection is very common, not just when it comes to soliciting donors.

· Fear of failure: No one wants to fail, but when this fear becomes irrational and persistent it’s called atychiphobia.

· Fear of uncertainty: This is another very common fear, but you can prepare, study, and research in order to move forward with more confidence.

· Fear of not being good enough: Self-doubt is being your own enemy. Stop it. Invest in positive relationships and stop comparing yourself to others. Be the best you.

· Fear of success: We worry about what will be different in our lives if we are successful, the stakes get higher. Trust yourself to handle the new challenges.

Rule Number One

The number one rule of fundraising is to focus on the relationship, not your fears. We can overcome our fears by reminding ourselves that we believe in the mission of our organization, and we are providing an opportunity for the potential donor to support a cause they are passionate about.

Making an in-person ask for a large gift can be very intimidating, but that’s why the cultivation phase is so important. You build a rapport with the person. You are prepared to answer their questions and provide pertinent information about the organization’s work.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Have you ever attended a presentation that was practically flawless? I have and I was in awe. How did they do that? How could they be interrupted and not lose their flow? I finally had to ask one presenter how they did that. To them, the answer was obvious. Practice. “I practice until I know my presentation backwards and forwards. I don’t memorize it, I know it.”

Being a fearless fundraiser means you are prepared. You trust your instincts and believe in your organization’s mission. Advocating for your nonprofit means you are raising critical funds to continue their work. Remember, YOU are fearless.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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