Nonprofit leaders often start (many things, really) from a place of not feeling worthy. Where this is really obvious, especially this time of year when nonprofit fundraising is in full swing, is in the fundraising ask.
When your fundraising message — whether a grant proposal, a direct mail letter, an email campaign, or a major donor meeting — comes from a place of feeling not enough, or worse, not equal to, then you are from the very start divorcing yourself from your power as a fundraiser for your nonprofit.
So this year think instead about making your ask from a place of true worthiness, true value, and true equality. And that fundamental mindset shift (which, by the way, you have complete control over) can be completely transformational.
Recognize the Value Of Your Nonprofit’s Work
The other day, I was coaching a nonprofit leader working on the forefront of combatting “fake news”. Her nonprofit’s contributions to strengthening our Democracy are clear to see….by everybody but her. She, like so many nonprofit leaders, is so focused on the day-to-day grind that she rarely, if ever, pokes her head up to see how much she and her organization are contributing to a stronger Democracy and to our society as a whole. I imagine that you have similar blinders on when it comes to the work your nonprofit is doing. So take a big step back and recognize the tremendous social value that you and your organization are contributing to the world. Then make your fundraising ask from the secure knowledge that your work, the work you need additional funding for, is of tremendous value.
Believe That Your Nonprofit is a Worthy Investment
Also this past week, I was talking with another client who was preparing to make a larger ask to an ongoing funder. But he was struggling to ask for more because he fundamentally doubted that he could spend their additional investment wisely. You have to understand the true insanity here because this particular nonprofit leader has been running an extremely effective, results-driven nonprofit for years. Because he and his team have been so successful at knocking things out of the park, they put together a strategic growth plan this year which requires bigger investments. But despite his nonprofit’s tremendous successes, this nonprofit leader doubted his and his organization’s abilities to do more. Believe me, if your organization is achieving results, you are a worthy investment. Own the fact that you have spent money very wisely up to this point and will, no doubt, continue to do so. Then make your fundraising ask from there.
See Your Potential Funder As Your Equal
So often in the world of social change we believe (consciously or not) that those who have money (funders) are inherently better than those who are asking for that money (nonprofits). But that is fundamentally untrue. Your funder is your equal partner in creating the social change you seek. You need their money to do your work, to be sure. But they equally need you to do the work. The fact is that if they didn’t see your work as a potential solution to a problem they want addressed they simply wouldn’t invest. So seek out funders who see the same problems in the world that you do, and convince them to become an equal partner with you to address those problems.
The good news is that the true effectiveness of a fundraising ask comes from within the one asking. It is simply a question of shifting your thinking — about the value of your work, the worthiness of you as an investment, and your equality with your funders. That mindset creates a truly powerful fundraising ask.
If you want some help shifting your thinking and your actions toward more effective fundraising, let me know.
Photo Credit: Matt Artz