3 limiting beliefs that hold you back from fundraising success

A man dressed in business attire sits in a large box and pushes on the top

I started working with a coach a number of years ago - I felt stuck in my job, and unsure of my next career move, and I needed help, fast!

I’m a firm believer in the power of coaching – coaches have helped me weather some bumpy times, navigate some huge career changes, and land here, in the wild, wonderful, occasionally terrifying world of entrepreneurship.

Sometimes (I’ve learned from experience) we can be our own worst enemy. A great coach won’t shy away from challenging you when they hear you holding yourself back, and getting in your own way.

I can almost hear my coach in my head right now…

“Emma”, she’ll say diplomatically, if I’m indulging in a good grumble about why I can’t do something, “could that a limiting belief?”

Since I’ve spent so much time examining my own limiting beliefs, I’ve started spotted them everywhere – especially in the way we think and talk about fundraising in our organizations, and our sector as a whole.

Read on to see if any of these common limiting beliefs may be holding you back from achieving your true fundraising potential.

1. There’s too much competition

Yes, there are a lot of great causes out there, doing amazing work, and raising big bucks.

But that doesn’t automatically mean there’s less for you!

Us fundraisers spend too much time worrying – what other charities are we up against? Do they have a bigger piece of the fundraising pie than us? How can we compete with larger organizations with so many more resources than us?

This kind of scarcity mindset is one of the biggest scourges of our sector.

Forget about the competition! If you channel that same energy into taking just one action that makes you a better fundraiser today than you were yesterday, you’ll always come out ahead.

2. We’re too small to get big gifts

There are all sorts of great examples of small shops landing gargantuan gifts – look out for great case studies, and feel inspired instead of envious.

It’s just more proof that this is possible for you, too!

If fact, your small size could be your biggest advantage.

It’s not unusual for large shops to start their major gift programs at $100K – that means you have a HUGE opportunity to give your generous supporters the stellar donor experience they might not be getting anywhere else.

3. I’ll never reach that goal…

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m the first person to advocate for reasonable, realistic goals, developed through a collaborative process that closely involves the fundraising team.

All that said…a stretch goal that pushes you out of your comfort zone can sometimes be a mighty powerful tool for both personal and fundraising growth.

The key here is creating a sense of psychological safety - organizations and teams need to support the risk of setting a stretch goal by ensuring fundraisers won’t get punished if they don’t achieve it (and if you’re a leader reading this, and wondering how the stem the tide of constant fundraiser turnover, this is a great place to start).

If you want to take your fundraising to next level, examining your own limiting beliefs is a great place to start. Do some of the above examples ring true, or are there different beliefs getting in your way? Can you plan to take just one positive action today to move past the thoughts that are holding you back from fundraising success?

Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraiser who has been helping great causes like yours build and grow successful fundraising programs since 1995. She’s the President-Elect of the world’s largest Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Chapter in Toronto, and the National Chair of AFP’s Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy. Contact Emma to book your free discovery session, and find out how you can work together to strategically focus your precious resources on the fundraising initiatives that truly work.

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