Mindset And How It Affects Fundraising Results

How Our Mindset Affects Fundraising or Donation Results

In all fields where people are trying to achieve results it is recognized that what is going on in your mind, such as your beliefs and attitudes, affects your experience in life, including the tangible results you may get from your fundraising efforts.

Successful entrepreneurs say that your mindset or attitude is about 90% of the game in terms of getting results. It’s the same with fundraising. If your success mindset is not switched on, which ever fundraising strategy you are using will simply not work or will be significantly less effective than is possible.

Now, my upbringing taught me to be suspicious and distrusting of ‘marketing’ in general,  believing that marketers were trying to con me at some level. What I have come to realize and accept, however, is that as fundraisers we are also marketers. It is possible to take on a few marketing ideas, and keep utmost integrity… for, as fundraisers, we are most definitely not ripping anyone off, are we?

If you are a fundraiser, then like it or not, you are selling your idea to people… and at the same time you are sharing your passion about your cause. For people to think about donating money they need to connect with what you are saying at an emotional level.

Our task is to communicate with people and help them connect with the cause that we believe deserves financial (and emotional) support.

How we communicate and where we are coming from inside ourselves (our intention) is critical… and this is where mindset comes in.

Getting this right will give you the inner integrity that inspires people to choose to give generously and give with a warm heart (rather than because they feel bullied or guilt-tripped into giving – that’s not satisfying, good or operating with integrity in my view). You will most likely have people thanking you for the opportunity to participate and be part of your cause – and for thinking of them!

Invite, Don’t Plead!

Your role as a fundraiser is to inspire people while helping them connect with a way they can be part of making the world a better place, simply by giving money to you/your cause.

Absolute tragedies are real and sadly extremely prevalent in our world. However, fundraising letters that emphasize sob stories, poor-me pleas and even the simple facts do not inspire people to take action and give money generously.

They more often create a feeling of overload or guilt, resulting in potential donors wanting to shut the information out because it feels like yet another thing that needs their help when they’re already feeling bombarded.

Donors want to feel:

  • positive about giving
  • connected personally with the outcome or benefit
  • trusting that the people they are giving to have the highest level of integrity
  • that their hard earned money is being used in the most effective and beneficial way

Desperate pleading for funds often comes from a victim mentality. I heard a saying recently: “you are a victim once; after that you’re a volunteer”. That is a fairly confronting statement, but one to ponder. There are real victims all the time, but as someone trying to help through raising funds, your letters will be more effective if you can step out of this view.

It lifts you up from inside to be inviting people to participate in something positive in the world, rather than contributing to their sense of overwhelm and sadness or feeling hassled into giving even though they don’t feel emotionally connected with the cause.

Giving donations is similar to shopping! It seems like a terrible analogy, but it is well recognized that people buy things on emotion, and justify it later with logic.

Similarly, people will give to your cause because they connect emotionally. This is crucial. You need to make sure you have helped them engage emotionally, and also given them the information so their logical mind supports the emotional decision to give.

Connect With Your Values and Vision

If the why is big enough, the how will become clear.”

What this means is that if your connection with your deeper values, and why you are doing what you are doing, is strong and clear then the way forward to reaching your goals happens with less effort.

In other words, if your motivation, intention and vision are crystal clear and focused, then you will often find that the steps you need to take to create this vision become clearer and more obvious.

Part of having a strong, clear mindset is taking the time to examine your own values and vision and to ask yourself what really motivates you.

This includes asking yourself: what are the qualities or intentions within yourself or your organization that underpin all your fundraising actions? These may be qualities such as: integrity, honesty, kindness, accountability, generosity, action-taking etc, so in the Workbook I ask you to make a list of these for yourself.

Further questions which will help you clarify your vision/values are: What matters to you? What fires up your passion? What benefit to the world or your own life are you seeking to make? And how does that make you feel?

Connecting with your deeper vision and values also helps potential donors connect with the bigger picture of your fundraising project. If you can relate your particular fundraising cause to how it is interconnected with other parts of life or humanity, it helps the donor feel like the issue is relevant to them, even if it is outside their immediate circle.  Sharing your vision and values is usually inspiring and uplifting to others.

Be congruent. Or in other words, walk your fundraising talk.

Essentially, you need to be convinced inside yourself that you are trustworthy and full of the utmost integrity before asking people for donation money. If you are doubting whether you can pull the project off then that lack of confidence or certainty will come through in your communication with potential donors. However, once you are clear inside yourself, your ability to communicate with donors will be easy.

Ask yourself: Do you give money/time to good causes, or are you stingy with your own generosity? Can you expect others to give to you if you do not also model that way of being? Make sure that your actions match your words.

Questions of Self-worth, how we feel about Asking and Receiving, and Integrity and Trustworthiness are relevant for this concept of congruency. These questions are relevant for everyone, but especially if the funds you are raising are for yourself in some way. Whether you are asking for money for yourself, or not, it can be quite an emotional process if you’re not used to asking for such tangible support.

In Relation to Self-worth and Asking and Receiving Fundraising Donations

It is important to know how our own sense of self-worth affects our fundraising efforts.

Ask yourself these questions: How strong is your sense of self-worth? Do you feel worthy of people giving to you and your cause? In what ways do you feel personally worthy? What is it about you and/or your project that is worthy of people’s support? In what ways do you feel unworthy? Getting these thoughts out can help clear your vision for the reasons why you are worthy.

Your sense of self worth will extend into your level of comfort about asking for and receiving donations.

So, how do you feel about asking people to help by giving donations to you? How does it feel when you imagine lots of checks coming in the mail, or lots of money being deposited in your fundraising account, with messages of gratitude from the donors for the chance to be part of something so wonderful?

Can you really imagine letting it in; letting yourself receive such financial support? For some people it is an easy natural thing. For others it is difficult and very challenging.

All of this will be affecting your fundraising results!

By Terri Nicholson, (B.Nat, B.Dip.Bdy.Psych), Fundraising Expert and Author of “Fundraising Letter Secrets – Letter-Writing for Effective Fundraising & the Mindset to Succeed” 2010. www.Fundraising-Success-Secrets.com

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