The Zen of Feverish Fundraising: Quieting the Dragons of Doubt and Confusion

parachuting-80095_640A skydiver needs to correctly pack a parachute before a jump. When the chute opens, it must unfold reliably without any twisting or tangling and at the right pace. The skydiver must know exactly what to expect when that chute opens. If it unfolds too quickly, the skydiver can be hurt.

Similarly, you don’t improve your chances of fundraising success without proper preparation. So don’t put the cart before the horse. Here are some fundraising prerequisites that can reduce uncertainty and keep your nonprofit from doing any twisting or tangling of its own.

  1. Get real. Understand the true essence of your organization. Converting a nonprofit mission statement into essence can sometimes be a tricky proposition. What the charity stands for- its heart and soul- is not always easily discerned. When this vague understanding of the lifeblood permeates internally among management, staff and volunteers, trouble is already brewing for the fundraising team.
  2. Brighten up the cloudy vision. Once the fog lifts, stakeholders will be able to see the direction in which you plan to move. Remember that pursuit of the vision is a never-ending quest to get better. There is always a higher plateau, so don’t get twisted into thinking your nonprofit has ever “arrived”. Remember: you own the vision.
  3. Pick up the pace. Always be focused on your most critical projects. Keep those big rocks- not the pebbles- in front of you and out of the rear view mirror. Seek to direct existing limited resources in an ideal fashion before asking for more. Purposefully accelerate your efforts in demonstrating good stewardship.
  4. Connect the dots. Develop a clear understanding of organizational needs- financially and program wise. Further understand how meeting those needs will advance the mission. Lastly, realize that achieving consensus through the ranks allows for the connecting of the dots. Without it, a fundraising request can easily get tangled.
  5. Highlight accomplishments.  Deeds of the past lend credibility to what can be done in the future. Just walk humbly.

The poet Theodore Roethke was quoted as saying: “The darkness has it’s own light.” It is difficult, yet good to learn the healing wisdom of dark emotions and tolerate their intensity. Not being a victim of your own devices can help to address doubt and confusion. Stop attempting to control or dispel outside forces that will always be at work. Instead, find meaning in and transcend the uncertainty. This will not only help you and your organization to get better, but enable you to leave more for generations to come. Don’t take that responsibility lightly as you seek to acquire resources for your small nonprofit.

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