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Fear Factor: The Fundraising Edition January 14, 2013

Filed under: strategic fundraising — fundtimes @ 6:19 pm

Everybody is afraid of something.  Whether it’s spiders, heights or sifting through clothes at Filene’s Basement (shudder), we all experience some sort of phobia.  And fundraisers are no different.

Truth is, asking people for money can be a very scary thing.  Sure, we’ve all heard those cute soundbites reminding us to put the “fun” back into fundraising. Or the adage that raising money is not about the dollars itself, but about making friends (preferably loaded ones).  While there is truth to these messages, these ideas inadvertently overshadow the anxieties that many nonprofit leaders face in asking people to fork over their hard earned money to support a cause.

So how do you effectively overcome your fear of asking people for money? Turns out, the answers lie among salespeople in the for-profit world.  In a recent article written by international sales expert (and self-professed introvert) Grant Cardone in Entrepreneur magazine, Cardone offers nine tips on what he does to overcome his timidity in completing sales.  The following excerpt highlights four tips that I think are most useful in helping nonprofit leaders like you to build your confidence in advance of the next fundraising ask:

    • Get passionate. I become so excited about what I’m selling that I have to share it with the world. Becoming passionate about your product or service makes you less interested in how you are perceived and more concerned about showing excitement about what you have to offer.
    • Do one thing a day that you fear. It’s very important for me do the things that make me most uncomfortable. You need to be courageous and make a point of facing your fears, no matter how big or small. The single scariest thing for me was visiting my customers or prospects in person. So that is exactly what I did first thing every day to get over my fear. It instilled courage in me, belief in myself and changed my focus from limitations to possibilities.
    • Observe people for their differences. After a series of failed sales calls, you may start to see all prospects as likely rejections. What you need to do is take a moment and observe how people are different from one another. This will stop you from thinking that everyone is going to respond the same way your last few prospects did.
    • Help other people make sales. Anytime I go a few days without making a sale for myself, I immediately offer my help to other salespeople because it’s a great way to get outside yourself. After several failures to close, a salesperson can become introverted and anxious. But by working with someone else’s prospective customers and having nothing to lose yourself, you will feel more relaxed and regain your confidence. Once you score a sale for someone else, it’s back to your own prospects again.

What fears do you have in executing direct asks? What techniques have you used in overcoming these fears?


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