I’m writing to you from a nest of blankets, with a super sized box of tissues by my side.
Almost everyone I know is kicking off 2020 by getting sick - including me!
This morning, I realized that something interesting happens when I’m feeling under the weather - my lizard brain kicks into overdrive.
Don’t worry, this isn’t some sci-fi worthy side effect of the virus I’ve picked up. It’s simply a metaphor for the oldest part of our brain, responsible for detecting and responding to threats - and avoiding pain.
Here’s how this relates to you and your fundraising.
I’ve noticed that more than anything, it’s fear that’s holding us back from breaking through to the next level of success. And there’s one fear that I see coming up over and over in my conversations with fundraisers:
Fear of “not enough”.
There are 3 common ways this can show up in our work - read on and see if you can relate:
1. There aren’t enough donors
The idea of having to compete for a limited pool of donors is a very common way that “not enough” shows up in our organizations.
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.
We spend so 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?
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. There’s not enough time
As someone who’s spent a lot of time fundraising in smaller shops, this is way that fear showed up most often in my own work.
But even if you are feeling stretched thin, you’d be surprised by how much you can accomplish by setting aside even a small amount of time every week to work on your fundraising priorities.
And when I say setting aside time, I really mean it – book it into your calendar like it’s an important meeting, and don’t mess with it! You could even make it recurring, so you know that every Wednesday morning from 10 am to 11 am, you're working on your major gifts program by proactively reaching out to major donors to schedule face to face meetings.
Taking action is the best way to bust through those fears, start seeing results, and build your confidence.
And speaking of confidence, this leads to the third most common fear - and the one that can be toughest to tackle.
3. YOU are not enough
This career path tends to attract a lot of Type A personalities.
I’m not surprised – there’s something about fundraising, and all the attendant planning, organizing, project managing and analyzing that appeals to us.
While Type A tendencies can keep many elements of our fundraising growing and moving forward, they can have a significant downside.
Striving for impossible perfection, comparing yourself to others and (my personal favourite) berating yourself for not getting enough done can be common culprits fuelling that feeling of not enough-ness.
These can be tough to tackle - but trust me, even the most accomplished fundraiser is likely wrestling with some variation of feeling not enough, so you’re not alone!
The first and most important step is starting to recognize when these feelings arise. When I noticed that I tend to end my days focusing on what I hadn’t gotten done, I started writing down at least one thing I was proud I had achieved instead.
Taking just a minute to celebrate your progress every day can be a great way to shift your perspective.
It’s only once we get honest about what’s holding us back that we can move forward. Which of these fears do your identify with most, and how are you working towards overcoming that fear in the year ahead?
Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert
with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)