Believe You Can Achieve


“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

Nonprofit executives have told me that their donors and prospects just aren’t going to give a significant amount of funds.

The problem is not with their portfolio, but with their mindset.

In reality, if they think they can’t then they won’t. I’ve given Harvard as an example of an organization that is still smashing fundraising heights because they continue to put so much man power behind their fundraising machine. Do you think Harvard leaders believe, “We have $37 billion so let’s quit and that’s enough?” No! Harvard keeps hiring, refining, and digging into their fundraising practices. They are dreamers and believers.

I’ve heard non-fundraising leaders say they’ve “tried” fundraising or put some resources behind an individual giving program to “test” and see how they do, but it didn’t bring about the funds they expected. Sadly, to the detriment of the organization, they just don’t understand the need or strategy of a major gift program. Or if they do, they don’t know how to start.

The first step in starting a major gift program is: believing you can be successful.

Believing you can be successful means you are going to have some failures and setbacks that will be discouraging, but the key is to push on.

Major giving is a long-term process. You’re investing in people. You’re starting conversations out of nothing and turning people into raving fans. Your essentially a salesman selling your organization. I find non-fundraising leaders have the passion and dedication, but are scared to sell. They use small-minded thinking as an excuse not to ask. Leaders and well-meaning volunteers are afraid to offend anyone by asking.

I’ve even talked to a leader about how he didn’t believe his organization needed an endowment! I couldn’t believe my ears. It makes me very nervous for the future of the organization when leaders hypothetically want to fundraise, but believe they can’t be successful. Often they become discouraged and accept the status quo, limited thinking, and it turns into they no longer want to try or they rationalize why they aren’t trying anymore. This is where the apathy sets in. Apathy is even more deadly.

“We’re not Harvard,” they say. Then they tie the hands of their development professionals by not giving them more money in the budget.

So, if you are a fundraiser in any capacity, be it for a charity walk or of a nonprofit, don’t think you can’t because then you won’t.

Think you can because then you will. Believe and you will achieve.

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