The other day I was sitting in a board meeting as the group was looking through donor lists to pick out 5 or 6 they would personally ask for support. As one person in particular was speaking about the people he knew on the list in front of him, it struck me that he would be a strong fundraiser for the organization. As far as I know, he has never solicited a gift. So what made me think that he would do well? He seemed fearless. He was talking about friends of friends, and friends of his family and slightly random connections, but he wasn’t making excuses and he was willing to make the calls.
There was no hemming and hawing over whether these people would take a call or meet with him. There was no question that he wanted to meet face-to-face with each of the people on his list. He had confidence that whether they would give or not, but he would ask.
Then, I wondered how I could replicate that attitude. Here are 5 ways to build your confidence.
- No matter how much need there is in your organization – the fate of the organization does not rest on your shoulders. If you are the only person that represents your nonprofit when asking for support, the organization is going to be in trouble. You need a group of people going out and soliciting funds from many people for success and sustainability. And as long as you have done your job: that is you listened, asked, offered alternate possibilities and ways of giving, listened, negotiated, listened, etc… the no or “not now” probably has nothing to do with you.
- Consider what is impeding your progress. Do you know what causes you to procrastinate instead of making those calls? Have you thought about why you are avoiding a certain person? Take a good look at yourself and it will be easier to move forward. If it is something as simple as not knowing how or what to ask – ask the staff for training. If the staff cannot provide it, ask a consultant (like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates).
- Practice makes perfect. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again – but that is because it’s true. The more you solicit, the more comfortable you will feel and, in turn, the donor will feel.
- Congratulate yourself on your successes. Nothing breeds success like success so take the time to acknowledge the four meetings you scheduled for the next two weeks. Appreciate that you did raise $X amount. It might not have been as much as you would have liked, but without you, that money wouldn’t be there and that is an achievement of which to be proud.
- In some ways, it is a game of numbers. If you need five $25,000 donors and you and the other representatives of your organization are only asking five people you are setting yourself up for failure. If, you ask fifteen, you are allowing for people who are having a bad financial year, or who have already committed to other organizations they are passionate about.
Exude confidence and a consultant like me won’t be the only one who notices.