Confidence: A Fundraising Gamechanger

| by Shannon Williams

Confidence is a critical element to success in almost any endeavor.

In fundraising, it is a gamechanger.

Without confidence, fundraising professionals and volunteers do the most dangerous thing of all—nothing. I have seen it over and over. Professionals and volunteers who lack confidence will not take the first step in securing a meeting with a prospective donor for fear that they may actually say “yes.” When you don’t meet with donors, you don’t raise money. Period.

Whether you are a development director, CEO, board member, or fundraising volunteer, take a quick litmus test of the confidence of your fundraising team. If any part of the team is lacking in confidence, make a plan to change it.

Here are some examples to consider:

  1. A development director of a highly successful fundraising program was stuck trying to figure out how to add a major gifts initiative to her development plan. She knew why they needed it, but she couldn’t decide how to package it. She does not have a true development thought partner on her staff. Her CEO agreed to allow her to engage with a member of our team to think it through. During our engagement, we watched the confidence of this leader soar. Not only did we figure out how to structure the major gifts initiative, but we also created an opportunity for social impact investing. The organization has already received a $100,000 gift and has social impact investor prospects at the same level. And they are just getting started with the new plan. The investment was a very, very small percentage of what has already been realized.
  2. A new executive director responsible for fundraising for his organization was struggling to clearly articulate his case and was not getting the results he hoped for in his face-to-face solicitations. A member of our team who did not know him or the organization particularly well sent him a fictitious prospect profile with the instruction that she would play the part of that prospect when they met the next week. Their first meeting began as a role play based on that profile. My colleague videoed the exercise. After the role-play was complete, she gave him immediate feedback. Then, our full team watched the video and offered further input. The executive director has tweaked his pitch; his confidence has skyrocketed, and he is on his way to making his year-end goal.
  3. A capital campaign team has struggled with the best way to articulate a comprehensive campaign ask. In a recent check-in meeting, the development director and a member of our team broke into an impromptu role play to give them a concrete example. Then, they included a handout of potential scenarios that team members may encounter with written examples of how to respond. The result: the ask was demystified, and the team is back on track setting up calls and making asks.

These are three simple examples of how a little time, strategy, and attention can move your fundraising team from stalled to confident. Confidence can be hard to find and easy to lose. Be willing to invest in keeping your fundraising team confident. It is a gamechanger for your organization. We can help.

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