5 Strategies for People who Hate Fundraising
This post is for everyone who hates fundraising, and I know there are a lot of you out there. I hated fundraising with a passion in the beginning and even now I wouldn't say it's my favorite activity. In fact I would say it's pretty far down the list of things 'I like doing' but it's a necessary part of nonprofit work and I have found that in fact it can be fun.
If you are finding yourself struggling with the fundraising and loathing it more and more, or if the thought of starting a fundraising campaign makes you want to hide in a closet these strategies are going to be a life saver.
1. Start small
Many people dive into fundraising thinking they need to find $100,000 or a million dollars in order to achieve their goal. If you have an established donor base that's one thing, but if you are just starting out or don't have a great donor base you are going to overwhelm yourself with such a big number. If it's truly what you need in order to do your work I would suggest breaking it down into steps and then treating each step of the project as it's own separate, noncompeting fundraising campaign. That way you can focus on bringing in 10K or 20K and it will feel much less daunting than a million right out of the gate.
There are a lot of different ways to start small (taking on small projects, having small fundraising goals, giving yourself a very generous timeframe to bring the money in), and I would encourage you to be open to them. Small wins add up to big wins so don't get deterred by trying to go for the big win right away and then getting overwhelmed.
2. Don't directly ask for money
This one is controversial and you can do what you would like with it. Personally, I have found it to be very effective plus it takes all the pressure off 'making the ask'. I was able to raise 26K in two months without making a single direct 'ask'. Now if you are comfortable making an ask then go right ahead, but if asking for money makes you squeamish and uncomfortable then I would like to show you another way.
Focus on having a conversation about the organization, highlighting the mission, impact, and needs. This will only work if you get the donor engaged and excited about the story and make the needs very clear. If you talk about the organization and then simply say it's great, the person you are talking to won't understand that there is a need and won't offer to make a donation. This method also won't work with someone who is an established donor who is accustomed to being asked.
3. Focus on one fundraising method you are comfortable with
There are a variety of ways that you can bring money into an organization and you don't have to do every method. In fact many people believe that putting all your energy into one method will result in a far better outcome than splitting your time between multiple methods. So if you love conversation and fundraising face-to-face then go all in on that. If you hate doing that and would much rather try for grants then dive into that. If both of those options scare you to pieces then you could sell a service or product and have all the proceeds benefit your charity.
There are multiple ways to bring in dollars. Don't feel that you need to apply for grants or run a crowdfunding campaign just because other people told you to. Put a lot of effort into methods you are comfortable with and leave the other options for other people.
4. Stop thinking about it as fundraising
Instead of thinking of it as the dreaded F-word try thinking about it as network building. I have found that when I talk to new people about my organization it helps me to think of it as widening my network not hunting for dollars. There is something much more engaging and relaxed about increasing your network as opposed to thinking about finding new donors and money. When you are focused more on making connections and widening your reach you are often pleasantly surprised at how helpful and generous people can be towards a nonprofit.
5. Make sure it's fun for you
I'm not joking about this one. If you hate what you are doing the people around you are going to know and no one wants to open their pocket books for someone who is clearly miserable. I like events. I like the food, make the decorations, mingling with people. Guess how I brought in 90% of my money? If you look up any information about nonprofit events online it will tell you that they are the worst way to fundraise and often you bring in almost no money with an event. Well that's how I brought in all my money and part of it was because I loved doing it and donors could tell. I was having fun and so were they and it made it so easy for them to donate and feel good about it.
If you LOVE writing cards or making videos than make that one of the primary ways you bring in money. I'm not saying don't try anything else, but I think you will find that the things you like to do tend to also be the things that bring in the most $$$$
There you have it 5 strategies for people who hate fundraising. Hope you enjoyed it and happy fundraising!
As always, keep impacting the world with your work!