The Reluctant Fundraiser: A Guide to Unlocking Your Fundraising Superpower

Guest Expert - Cindy Wagman • Feb 13, 2020

Which one describes you best?

Most people I talk to and work with would rather not be fundraising. They are driven to their work because of their passion. They fall into fundraising, so to speak.  I call these people reluctant fundraisers – they need to fundraise, not because they’ve chosen to be a fundraiser, but because it’s a necessity to fuel the work they’re doing. And that work is important!

Whether you’re dismantling patriarchy, halting climate change, using arts and culture to create community (or any other amazing and important work), they need to fundraise to fulfill your mission and create a vibrant and healthy organization. Maybe this sounds like you, too? These reluctant fundraisers live with lack-luster results because they tell themselves the following myths:

Find your fundraising alter-ego and unlock 
your fundraising superpowers

Myth 1: I don’t have time to fundraise

I get it – time is the most precious resource for small organizations. We don’t have time for things, so how are we going to make time for fundraising? But ask yourself, and dig deep for the truth – even if you had time, would you use it on fundraising?

Most people I talk to say that fundraising is the first thing they would hire for if their organizations had more money. They would rather be doing pretty much anything else. So, while our busyness is real, most people are choosing to spend the limited time they do have on other things. 

Myth 2: I don’t have the qualities of a good fundraiser

While it makes for a popular Google search, the reality is that the qualities that make someone a good fundraiser are ones that are easily learned. You do not need to be an extrovert. You do not need to be good at sales.

You do not need to be a schmoozer. In fact, the best quality of a good fundraiser is authenticity. Being who you are and finding your own style will always make you more successful when it comes to fundraising.

Myth 3: Our organization is too small

Another version of this one is – we need a new brand. Both are completely wrong. While you might not be the organization on everyone’s mind, you don’t need to be. Your fundraising success isn’t going to come from the big local philanthropist knowing about your work. Sure that wouldn’t hurt, but there are easier ways to raise money. Without fail, every small organization can be raising more money with their current network. And, they can be doing so in a way that makes their donors feel super special. A win-win!

So if these things aren’t holding us back from fundraising, what is? 

In order to raise more money, we have to feel differently about fundraising. 

If we feel like fundraising is “icky” or like “selling out”, if we feel that we aren’t skilled in fundraising, if we feel like we just aren’t good at fundraising, well then, we’ll never get good fundraising results!

In fact, there’s neuroscientific evidence to the fact that the more we believe something to be true, the more our brains look for evidence to support it and ignore the evidence against it. So if we believe we aren’t good at fundraising, or that we can’t raise money for our small organization, our brain is subconsciously working to support that belief.

It’s estimated that 95 percent of brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness. So, 95% of the time, our brain (and therefore our behavior) is working against our fundraising success. We are self-sabotaging. 

This is where that feeling of spinning your wheels comes in. We feel like we’re working so hard, but we’re not getting results.

So, how do we re-train our brains and start to feel good about fundraising?

I’ve created 4 reluctant fundraising archetypes that help you identify the exact belief system that is holding you back from fundraising and a new set of beliefs that are empowering. I call these new beliefs your fundraising alter-ego because they are going to change the way you show up for fundraising. 

Each fundraising alter-ego represents another, powerful, version of your authentic self. It leverages your beliefs into a mindset that is more productive. It’s not about being someone else – it’s about finding your authentic approach that is comfortable and achievable. 

Add Donor Stewardship to Your Fundraising Superpowers

Join Cindy Wagman at DEW 2021 as she discusses how fundraisers can maximize their donor stewardship plan.

The event is FREE and by registering, you’ll get access to the session’s recording.

To learn about your fundraising archetype, you can read the Good Partnership Fundraisers’ Guide here.

If you’re tired of the constant disappointment of unsuccessful fundraising and persistent worry of not having enough money, then it’s time to look inside for the answers. That requires understanding your fundraising archetype, digging deep into your fundraising mindset, and giving you the tools to find your authentic fundraising superpower.

Cindy Wagman Head Shot

About the author:  

Cindy Wagman is the President and Founder of The Good Partnership, a values-driven, social-justice informed consultancy that is working to unlock the potential of small Canadian charities through fundraising and systems support. Cindy became a Certified Fundraising Executive in 2009 and received her MBA from the Rotman School at the University of Toronto in 2013. Cindy has presented for AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals), CanadaHelps, CharityVillage, the Centre for Social Innovation, and the city of York Region, and has taught fundraising at Humber College. She is the host of The Small Nonprofit podcast, Canada’s #1 podcast for charities.