How Anyone Can Be a Superstar Fundraiser

by Joe Garecht

Fundraiser.  Rainmaker.  Event Chair…  For most people, those words conjure up a certain amount of mystique, awe, and fear.  Everyone has certain issue they care about, and certain groups they are involved with.  Most of those groups and issues are always looking for more money to carry out their mission.

If you’re like most people, you wish you could help your favorite non-profit, church, or school raise more money and do more good work… you wish you could be the superstar fundraiser or rainmaker, or the top-flight event chair, who brings in the resources that the non-profit you love needs.  But, if you’re like most people, you’re also a little bit scared of fundraising… how does it work?  Will people say yes?  Why would they say yes to me?  How do I ask someone for money?

The Antidote to Fear: Knowledge and Practice

Fear in the face of fundraising is understandable.  Most people don’t like talking about money, and with fundraising, well… there’s no way around it.  Anytime you do something for the first time, it’s a little it awkward, and a little unsettling. It’s the same way with fundraising.  The first time you make a fundraising call, or send out a letter, or try to sell tickets to an event, it seems a little weird – perhaps, even a little frightening.  That’s ok!  Everyone else felt that way too… all those people at the charity you are working with who are fundraising superstars?  They felt the exact same way during their own first calls.

What’s the difference between you and them?  What takes someone from feeling awkward about fundraising to being completely comfortable making fundraising calls and asks?  The answer is: knowledge and practice.

People have been fundraising for a long time.  Over that time, people have learned what works, and what doesn’t.  Fundraising professionals have tested methods, strategies, and tactics, and seen what helps organizations raise money – and what just wastes time and resources.  Likewise, experienced fundraisers have made hundreds, if not thousands, of asks.  They know what succeeds in getting a donation, and what just turns the other person off.  When you start out fundraising… you don’t need to reinvent the wheel!

Instead, study the basics of fundraising: how to make an ask, how to hold an event, how to find prospects and build a fundraising network.   Study what works, and what doesn’t, and learn from those who have been there before.  That’s why I started the Fundraising Authority… because I want you to be successful in your fundraising efforts, and I know the best way to make sure that you are is to arm you with the knowledge that I have learned in over a decade of professional fundraising… and with resources and tools gleaned from the best fundraising minds in the world.

Don’t Forget the Practice!

Once you read through the information on our site, and understand the process of fundraising, the next step is to practice… to run through the material in your head, then out loud… and then to practice fundraising with other people.  Ultimately, you’ll need to actually get out there and do some real fundraising: make some asks, write some letters, hold some events.  The best way to learn fundraising is by doing it.

Yes, you will feel a little unsure and awkward in the beginning, no matter how well-prepared you are.  But armed with the knowledge you gain from this site (and other sources), it won’t be long before you will be fundraising like a real pro.

You CAN Do It!

I know that you can do this – that you can become a better fundraiser, learn best practices, and raise more money for your non-profit organization, church, or school.  How do I know?   Because I have seen countless others who were frightened by the mere prospect of fundraising – unwilling to send even one e-mail asking for money – become money-raising superstars simply by studying the basics, practicing, and getting out there and giving it a shot.  You can too – just keep reading this site, and keep practicing, and one day soon, you’ll be one of your organization’s own fundraising superstars.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get Your Free Copy of How to Hold Great Fundraising Events

Sign up for The Fundraising Authority Newsletter, and getHow to Gold Great Fundraising Events your free copy of How to Hold Great Fundraising Events: A Step by Step Guide. This 10 page special report will guide you through the entire process of running a profitable fundraising event for your organization. Click here to get your free copy today!


Google+

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Fundly February 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head by addressing Fear as the main issue people face with fundraising. It’s hard!

One suggestion I’ve heard is to start fundraising with activities that don’t require a direct ask, like making thank-you phone calls, etc. That helps people slowly ease there way into the direct ask for money.

Good, thoughtful post.

Joe Garecht February 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Thanks, Fundly… and you’re right, that is a great tip for a development pro to get their feet wet. Thanks again!

Alina January 16, 2012 at 5:50 am

Thank you for this post and thank you for this website! I am in the process of becoming a professional fundraiser for a wonderful NGO and fear doesn’t even begin to cover what I’m feeling! It’s not just about my own insecurities, I simply don’t want to disappoint the amazing people who are making things happen and who need me to facilitate that. You can be sure I’ll be reading every single post on here.

Alice Ratzlaff May 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I am brand new at the fund raising game, but I have been a lawyer for 21 years and I have many ideas about raising funds for a society that is already doing what I think needs to be done. I feel empowered to write to anyone, prepare grant applications, to cold call anyone, because I believe in this project.

I know that my best asset is to be able to write a compelling grant application, but I am also not shy to call companies, and weed through the bureaucracy to find the right person I should be talking to.

I look forward to hearing back from you in respect to garnering more tips about how to do this right. I did learn from your site, that confidence is everything!

Alice

Joe Garecht May 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Alice and Alina,

Keep up the great work!

Joe

Jenise June 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

Hello Joe Garecht,
First off, I love reading your blogs along with the great tips you have provided. So thank you. Anyway, I’m new to fundraising, and I received a job interview about fundraising on the street. It would’ve have been a great job, but I was scare out of my mind because I have to talk to people face to face on the street collecting money for the non-profit organization. So I turn down the job because I don’t have the skills sets for fundraising. Like Alice and Alina, I have great ideas and different ways to go about fundraising on the phone or writing to people. So with practice and little bit of research, I might have a general idea of how to go about asking people on the street for donations and such.

Joe Garecht June 15, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Jenise,

Thanks for your comment. Street fundraising is tough, but could be a great way to “break the fundraising ice” — if you can ask people on the street for money, making an ask to a qualified prospect is cake.

That being said, in my opinion hiring street fundraising teams is a missed opportunity for non-profits – instead of using 40 man hours per week, per fundraiser to build strong and lasting relationships with donors, they are using those hours to essentially do door-to-door selling. Not the most effective use of time or resources, and not the best way to build a prevailing non-profit with committed lifelong givers.

Chloe February 23, 2013 at 2:59 am

Hey Joe.
I am new to door to door charity fundraising, I’m into my second week and my sales are very up and down at the moment. The head of my team says it is a confidence thing so my question is how do you keep your attitude after 100 doors being slammed in your face? Or how do you pick your attitude back up?
I feel pretty confident in doing door to door and have some great laughs with people but I am really struggling to get people to sign up. Any tips you could offer I would greatly appreciate.
Thanks.
Chloe.

Joe Garecht February 24, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Chloe,

Thanks for your comment. To be honest with you, I really have mixed thoughts about door to door fundraising. I know that some non-profits have found real success with it, but in my mind it is not a great way to build long-term donor relationships, which should instead be built on the Prospect – Cultivate – Ask – Steward model.

That being said, your best bet is to incorporate the strategies and tactics that have worked for door-to-door salesmen and door to door political campaigners. Rejection is part of the game… ask your team leader what the normal response rate is for your offer. Generally, door to door fundraisers should expect to hear “No” at least 49 out of 50 times.

Best of luck with your fundraising!

Joe

Chuck April 20, 2013 at 8:57 am

Joe,
I am very interested in the work you are doing, especially by the fact that you appear to be about sharing & giving good information. I really appreciate that,…Thank you!
I am a pastor of a church along coastal New Jersey (yes, we were affected by the storm, but we’re OK!), and of course, living in these times can be trying to the church budget. The ministry context can be a hard rock to stand on as far asking for funds. Actualities like church upkeep, insurances & salaries etc., make it harder and harder to lay aside monies for missions. My hope & my question as I wonder is: “How do I energize people to give more (for missions) than they are able to squeeze out at this time?” I am aware of the spiritual nature of giving & its rewards, but so few buy into God’s promises. (Malachi 3:10) Help!

Virginia April 21, 2013 at 10:14 am

Hello Joe,
Boy! am i glad i found your site.
I’m in the process of working with a fund raising organisation that involves raising funds for a cause.
I am scared out of my wits as to talking to people, etc… i am glad this weird feeling is not experienced by me alone. That’s comforting.

Now i will appreciate your advice here…
- If i have to approach this fund raising issue, the only way i THINK i can work well is by using the on-line approach, because i write a good number of articles online and the experience may help a bit. But do you think its the right way?
- Also, if you think its not a bad approach, what is your view on a “blog versus website” platform to raise funds?
- I know zilch about email listing, but will i need to incorporate this into my plan, or, can i do without it?

I will keep closely to your sites as i see i can learn a tremendous lot from your articles.
Thanks so much for sharing.
V

Joe Garecht April 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Virginia,

Thanks for your comment and good luck in your fundraising efforts. In my experience, online fundraising is a great compliment to personal fundraising efforts, but generally can’t supplant it. Here’s my suggestion – reach out to your friends, family, contacts, co-workers… your network. Do it online, in person, on the phone, however you normally communicate with them. Tell them what you are doing, ask them to get involved, ask them to donate.

Then, be ready to follow up on your e-mails with a call. Nothing works better than a personal phone call to raise money from those you already know. You can also consider a crowd sourcing campaign (http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/internet-fundraising/crowd-funding-your-non-profit/) and direct people to that for a little more fun and novelty.

Hope this helps – please feel free to post your follow-up questions as comments and I will be happy to help!

Joe

Joe Garecht April 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Chuck,

As with all fundraising, church fundraising is based on two key concepts: VISION and RELATIONSHIP. First, you need to cast a vision for your congregants about the church’s plans for the future… why you need the money, what you will use it for, why your mission is important.

Then, you need to build strong relationships with your members and prospects. Get them involved as advisers, volunteers, etc. Make them feel like a part of your church team. Cultivate them. Then make a direct ask for support.

The concept of stewardship also comes into play here because you are fundraising for a church: http://www.buildingchurchleaders.com/articles/2006/021306a.html – Create opportunities for your members to not only donate to help your mission, but to INVEST and become STEWARDS of your mission.

Joe

Chuck April 23, 2013 at 7:40 am

Joe,
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my request. Your information is very helpful. From your encouragement, I will focus strongly on the vision & relationship aspects, although we are mostly seasonal & quite transient. It seems to me that getting the team around me to buy into missions may branch enthusiasm outward. Thanks also for the link you forwarded…very helpful & enlightening.
Chuck

Virginia April 24, 2013 at 9:28 am

I really appreciate your response Joe, and i think it has answered my questions. Reaching out as you advised is definitely a good way to start, and i think i should be able to do that.
Thank you so much Joe, and thanks for the helpful link.
GodBless
V.

Jaime Sillett June 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I am organizing a short term fundraising event for a family member who has a genetic heart disease which is fatal. I did not file for a non profit organization. I am just using all of the resources I know. I started with a hoagie sale and am in the process of putting together a benefit picnic. I have local bands that are going to Donate their performances and have a huge Chinese Auction. Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Joe Garecht June 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Jaime,

Thanks for your comment. Have you looked at running a crowdfunding campaign for your friends and contacts to contribute to the cause? More information on how to run one can be found here: http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/internet-fundraising/crowd-funding-your-non-profit/

Best of luck with your fundraising efforts!

Joe

Dave Hicks September 9, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Hi Joe,

I know you wrote this post awhile ago, but I want to compliment you on your fresh, inspirational approach and generous writing. Although I never worked as a professional fundraiser, I composed and published books and newsletters on philanthropic sources for almost a decade and interviewed and worked with some prominent prospecting pros. Great work on this website.

Joe Garecht September 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Dave,

Thanks so much! I appreciate your kind words.

Joe

Maria February 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Joe,
I love the antidote to fear – so true! I am on my 5th day of street fundraising for a wonderful NGO. I definitely believe knowing what you’re talking about and practice, practice, practice is key, however I’m on the “mean” streets of NYC… Hence, people are very off-putting and not as trusting/willing perhaps as much as other areas in the country.

How do you overcome the fact that people just have too much option (like in this big city) and make them give YOUR non-profit the support it needs?
Best,
M

Joe Garecht February 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Maria,

Thanks for your e-mail! Street fundraising (or “chugging”) is a unique type of fundraising. Normally, the best way to reach new donors is through a concerted development program involving referrals from current donors and a prospecting funnel that builds on current relationships to build new ones. This isn’t possible with street fundraising.

Street fundraising is a lot more akin to straight salesmanship than any other type of fundraising. You may find that some sales training, and books like Zig Ziglar’s “The Secrets of Closing the Sale” or Jeff Gitomer’s “The Little Red Book of Selling” helpful in honing your pitch, overcoming anxiety, and smoothing out your pitch.

Joe

Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Next post: