(This was one of my most popular posts. I’ve updated it a little and would love your comments.)

Are you the one person in your office who does everything? Do you wear “Fundraiser” as one of your many hats and get frustrated when there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done?

This is a common lament among staff in small nonprofit organizations. How you answer those questions and respond to them will determine whether or not you’ll be successful in raising money.

If you dread raising money or if you leave it until last, your results will be dismal. If you embrace it and give it the attention it deserves, you’ll love the results you get.

This is about mindset or how you think about things. The framework that you use to view the world has a huge impact on how you act and what you do.

Lone Ranger of Fundraising - Sandy Rees, fundraising coach

Here are some suggestions for staying in a positive mindset when you’re the Lone Ranger of Non-profit Fundraising.

First, know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. In other words, have a plan. If you don’t know what needs to get done during the day, you’ll float from one thing to the next and at the end of the day, you’ll wonder what you did, which can give you a sense of uselessness. Instead, be clear about your goals for the day and focus on getting them done. At the end of the day, you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment. To crank this up a notch, keep a journal of everything you got done and good things that happened during the day. When you focus on the positive, you’ll feel great about your work and it will show!

Second, surround yourself with support. Most of us have friends we can talk to, but we don’t lean on them until something bad happens. Instead, put some purposeful support in place. Have a regular meeting with a mentor or a colleague so that you can air your frustrations in private. Get a coach to help you make decisions and set goals. Make sure to spend time with people who are a positive influence on you and pull you forward.

Third, play to your strengths. Do only those things that you are really good at and get help with the rest. You don’t have to hire someone to take over those tasks. Recruit a volunteer or get an intern to help you. Consider outsourcing things that you aren’t good at. Hire a contract person to help write grants if you can’t stand writing. Just get help. You might find ways to automate some things so that they don’t take as much time. And there are probably things you’re doing that you should simply stop doing, because they don’t need to be done in the first place. Remember, you have limited time and energy and creativity during the day, so spend them on the things that really matter.

Finally, keep your head in the game. Be passionate about the cause you are working for and spend time regularly on the front lines to fire up that passion. This can help you more than anything else! Looking someone in the face who is receiving help from your nonprofit and seeing them smile might be all you need to keep your heart burning and your mind focused on the things you need to do.

When you work in a small organization, it’s easy to get resentful of the “big” nonprofits, because they have lots of staff and scads of volunteers and they get all the big donors, right?

If that thought or a variation of it runs through you head, I want you to kick it out and replace it with something better. Just remember that every big nonprofit was once exactly where yours is right now. The only difference is that someone at that big organization hung in there and stayed focused, and good things started to happen.

You hang in there and it can happen for you, too!



  1. Sandy, I enjoy reading your topics about fundraising and having the right mindset. After reading several topics, I have succeeded in motivating our Board of Directors from The Brazilian For Cultural Exchange Of Sacramento. We started out as a Brazilian cultural performing arts group that developed into a non profit organization that reaches out to help build a stronger community. Now we have educational programs such as tutoring for youth , advocacy, immigration classes, English and Portuguese classes. We have cultural programs, dinners, movies, and we have an annual carnival fundraiser yearly. We have a wellness program where we have Zumba, Samba dancing and costume making, capoieria (Brazilian martial arts) throughout the week. We have a non profit status but we need to increase our fundraising efforts. Will you have any speaking engagements in the Sacramento, California area. Maybe we can get several non profit organization involved or advertise in this area. Thanks, yours truly, Archie Kelley

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