Fundraiser Paralysis: Overcoming the Fear of Making a Mistake

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

This is part two of a four-part series covering the most common roadblocks to successful fundraising.

To read part one, The Most Common Roadblock to Successful Fundraising, click here.

To tweet this article, click here.

The second most common cause of fundraiser paralysis is the fear of making a mistake. What if I offend the donor, or ask for too much money? What if my timing is wrong? Well, to paraphrase Terry Axelrod, the founder of Benevon, by the time the fundraiser asks for money, the donor should be so connected to the mission of the organization that asking becomes nothing more than “nudging the inevitable”. It should be like ripe fruit dropping from a tree. In fact, a well-cultivated donor often asks: “Aren’t you going to ask me for money?” There should be that level of deep engagement. That’s the ideal, and it is achievable if fundraisers have done their job assiduously. Ironically, the biggest mistake most CEOs make isn’t asking for money. It’s not asking for money once they’ve extensively educated their donors about their organization. Remember, fundraising is action-oriented. Trust yourself to take a step. If you aren’t sure whether it’s the right time to ask for a major gift, here’s a question you can ask the donor that will clear things up rather quickly: “Is this the right time to talk to you about a major gift?” Often, it’s that simple.

If, at the end of this post, you still feel shrouded in doubt, I’ll offer a final suggestion: talk to someone you trust. It’s best to speak with someone that is your senior, someone who has dealt with a similar problem and found a solution. They may have the answer you’re looking for, but sometimes just talking through a problem will reveal a solution.

Is there a problem that has you feeling stuck in your fundraising? Leave a comment about it below and I’ll gladly share my recommendations to get you moving.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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