Everyone who works in fundraising has at some point experienced fear of asking for money.

Let’s face it: raising money is not always the easiest job.

In fact, sometimes fundraising can be downright hard.

Let me tell you about a conversation I had recently with a client.

This woman is a smart, educated, professional Executive Director of a rather large nonprofit. She’s fairly new in the job, and as you can imagine, she’s still coming up to speed on the organization’s programs, and getting to know the staff and Board. She’s also spending some time visiting with some of the organization’s donors.

From our previous coaching sessions, I know she cares about the mission and deeply wants to serve the people of the community.  Raising money is high on the priority list, yet she’s having trouble actually asking for a gift.

“I don’t mind asking someone to volunteer or to help with an event,” she said to me. “But asking for money intimidates me.”

I’m not surprised.

Money has a lot of emotional and psychological baggage associated with it. The minute we start talking with a donor about money, all that crap we carry around from our past experiences comes up and gets in our way. Our fear of asking for money shows up loud and strong.

As we talked, it became clear that there were mindset issues at play for her and they were holding her back.  With a bit of coaching and some personal work on her part, she’s well on her way to overcoming these obstacles. By identifying what’s holding her back and changing her mindset, she can be about the business of raising big money to change lives in her community.

I find that resistance to asking for money often stems from mindset.

Mindset is your way of thinking and looking at the world. If you have a negative mindset about money or wealth, you’re likely to have a tough time asking for donations, especially large ones.

Your current mindset is a result of a lifetime of programming.

Your mind interprets every experience you had throughout your life and uses it to shape your views on things. Think about this: when you were little, if there was a fight every time money was discussed in your home, you may well have some fear around talking about money.

And if you were like me and your parents said snotty things about people who appeared to have money, you may have some negative mindset about “rich” people (which took me a long time to work through and clear up).

All of this stuff gets in our way as fundraisers.

So, back to my client.

As we talked, it became clear that there were mindset issues at play for her and they were holding her back.  With a bit of coaching and some personal work on her part, she’s well on her way to overcoming these obstacles. By identifying what’s holding her back and changing her mindset, she can be about the business of raising big money to change lives in her community.

Now it’s your turn to identify your mindset issues. What’s holding you back? Do you ever find yourself thinking or saying any of these?

  • “I can’t hit up my friends for money”
  • “Our cause isn’t sexy.  We don’t have puppies and kittens like the animal shelter.”
  • “We’re just a small nonprofit”
  •  “I’m not good at fundraising”
  • “Fundraising is so competitive with all the nonprofits out there”

These are all signs of negative mindset. The good news is that they can all be overcome.