Three Reasons You Might Dread Fundraising And What To Do About Them

This is a guest post from Meredith King, Executive Director of Integrus Leadership. Integrus is one of the leading leadership and development companies for churches and nonprofit ministries. The Integrus processes grow practical leadership skills to amplify your team’s impact and effectiveness.

If you’re a fundraiser who dreads asking for money, you’re not alone. Dread sneaks up on even the most seasoned fundraisers from time to time. If dread lingers too long, however, it can weigh you down and hinder your effectiveness.

In my experience, there are three primary reasons dread creeps into our fundraising responsibilities. Keep reading to learn what those reasons are and how to reframe them in your mind so you can look forward to fundraising again.

1. Asking for money feels personal and scary.

Money is a taboo topic in our society, which means asking for money can feel extremely personal. Ask yourself if you’re letting that feeling or fear of crossing a line hold you back. Are you telling yourself “no” before you approach your prospective donor? Are you making their decision for them before they get a chance to consider your ask?

Remember: This is personal, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. You aren’t selling or coercing; you’re inviting someone to do something. We cannot convince anyone to give money they don’t want to give, but we can invite them to be part of something meaningful.

When someone entrusts you with their hard-earned dollars, it’s because they believe that you will do something meaningful with it—more than what they could have done on their own. When you provide an opportunity for financial contribution, you are extending an invitation to find purpose and impact. If you don’t, who will?

2. Fundraising doesn’t seem as impactful as “mission-centered” work.

I’ve talked with many development team members who feel the “real work” happens elsewhere—in the programs or services offered by the organization they are raising funds for. I’ll never forget actually hearing a development team member refer to their role in fundraising as “a necessary evil.” No wonder they felt the need to apologize for inviting donors to give!

Donors are not merely a means to an end (more money); they are people with stories and life experiences. They are people with joys and sorrows. They are people looking to make a difference. Sometimes, they are people looking for a place to belong. In short, they are people, and they matter.

We all know our missions would not be accomplished without our donors, so let’s approach the work of fundraising as vital instead of just necessary, as a privilege instead of a burden.

As fundraisers, we have access to relationships no one else in our organization has. Let’s steward these opportunities well by building strategies to nurture, appreciate, and include our donors.

3. There’s a lot of need but no real plan.

Without a clear plan, fundraising feels like a high-stakes guessing game. The budget requires a certain amount of money to be raised, and we hope we can figure out the right combination of activities to produce the income required. This trial-and-error approach is a recipe for mounting pressure, unclear expectations, and crisis-based decision making.

An effective fundraising plan includes clearly stated goals, realistic deadlines, and a named “owner” for each goal who is responsible for seeing it through. A solid plan will help you raise more money because each person on your team will know exactly how they should spend their work hours, new ideas and opportunities will have a filtering process, and nothing important will slip through the cracks (because it will be accounted for in the plan). In other words, a fundraising plan builds confidence and provides clarity; without a plan, we are likely lacking in both.

Don’t resign yourself to a new (dreadful) normal—just take the time to figure out why it’s there. When dread shows up, it’s trying to tell you something and you need to listen. Either there’s a skill or perspective you need to grow, or there is a system, process, or strategy that needs shoring up. Once you determine the source, do something about it, or find someone who can help you. You’ll be better for it, and so will the incredible mission of which you are a vital part.