Asking for money is something most people don’t like to do. It makes them feel awkward and embarrassed. But if you are going to be a Fundraiser it is definitely something you have to overcome. Otherwise you could compare it to being a conscientious objector and then enlisting for the army. There are various factors that make people reluctant to ask, but there are ways to overcome this and achieve freedom from fear. Fundraising the Essentials for Success goes into detail about the fear factors and how to overcome them.
A primary reason for reluctance to ask for money is fear of rejection. We don’t like to hear the word “NO”. It’s easier to avoid hearing that by not asking, but from a fundraising point of view that is hardly the road to success. In an earlier blog, Fundraiser 0: Rejections 6: , I recounted an early lesson I learnt from a double-glazing salesman. He said “ I love it when someone says “NO” it means that I am one person closer to my next yes. Fundraising and double-glazing sales have one factor in common, you will hear“NO” many more time than you will “YES”. And the way you handle it? Just remember it is not personal: it’s not You they are rejecting.
People have a multitude of different interests and most of the time those interests do not coincide. That’s why it’s so exciting when you find someone who holds the same interest as you do. Can-rattling on a street corner or chugging are not activities I could do successfully. I need to know that the person I am talking to might just have an interest in what I want to talk about.
A significant, formative part of my career was as a salesman. I need to know that the narrative I am recounting resonates with the person I’m talking to. One of my biggest fear factors is an unconvincing narrative. You can’t sell when you have no confidence in the product. Research is essential. David Ogilvie, known as the Father of Advertising” relied on meticulous research to underpin his advertising propositions. As a Fundraiser a Compelling Case will give that freedom from fear.
I have been in the situation where I was totally reliant on a single major prospect for the success of the fundraising campaign. The fear factor is at its most intense here. This feels like the last chance saloon. If they say “NO” where can you find replacement funding? It’s easier not to ask and to keep the dream and hope alive. But you are going to have to ask at some point. The importance of research is again apparent. A consistent effort here, to identify prospects throughout the campaign, is essential. As the campaign develops new opportunities will appear. The prospect pool is being refreshed. There is not just one giant fish swimming around: freedom from fear of the last chance saloon.
One thing that really upsets me is a phrase I have frequently heard from fundraising committees. “I suppose we will have to send out the begging letters”. To me that denotes a sense of inferiority. They have nothing to offer but ask for your pity. If that’s how they feel about the cause they shouldn’t be on the committee.
Most charities have a really good story. They give people the opportunity to make a difference, to feel good about themselves and do good for the world. There are not many better things you can do. You are not begging, you are offering real benefits. Hold your head up and ask with complete freedom from fear.