The Organizer #10 | Fundraising

How do I stop feeling like a imposter in fundraising? Don't try to be a perfect fundraiser. Identify your personal strengths and embrace a unique fundraising style that serves you, your program, and your donors.

When fundraising makes you feel like an imposter

Fundraising is one of the most common stressors in nonprofit life.

In a 2006 study, close to half of nonprofit CEOS said that fundraising and finance were the parts of the job they disliked most and that fundraising was the skill they most needed to develop to be more effective. Nearly 3/4 of CEOs said they wanted more help seeking donations.

If fundraising stress is familiar to you, keep reading.

You are the right person for the job

Fundraising is truly challenging for most organizations, but we often add our own layer of stress to the work.

> Have you ever felt like you aren’t the right “type” of person to fundraise?
> Do you worry that you lack something special?
> Have you thought maybe things would be easier if you were somehow different?

You’re not the only one. When you are struggling with fundraising or new to this type of work, doubt can creep in easily.

It’s a myth that a fundraiser needs to be one specific type of person — an outgoing, energetic, social butterfly who is both friendly and relentless. The mythical fundraiser understands money and people. They are intellectual and intuitive. They’re charismatic enough to be memorable and chameleon-like enough to be whatever donors want them to be in any social or professional situation.

This “ideal” fundraiser is a myth. It’s a fantasy, a kind of toxic unicorn.

Every time you compare yourself to this myth, you undermine your own talents. You’re not alone, of course. Many of us sell ourselves short. We tell ourselves we’re imposters and that we are entering spaces where we don’t belong.

Let’s not do that anymore.

Everyone can fundraise

Some people will love fundraising more than others. These people may specialize in distinct areas of fundraising and really hone their craft.

Many others will fundraise only because they have to. They’re trying to build an organization or serve a cause, and they need funds. No one else is doing it, so it has to be them. These folks would never call themselves “fundraisers”, but they do fundraising all the time.

We all fundraise because that’s what nonprofit, social impact, change-the-world kind of work requires.

You’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people will fund you

Confidence has nothing to do with your personality or your identification with the label “fundraiser”.

If you are waiting for confidence to strike so that you can get started, remember this: Confidence comes after success, not before.

Confidence arrives late to the party, after you really need it. It’s annoying that way.

If you thought you needed to change your personality to be a “real” fundraiser, you can relax. You do not need to become someone else to do good work.

Get to know (and love) your fundraising personality

There is no one right way to approach fundraising. The key is to create (or join) a fundraising strategy that plays to your strengths. Successful strategies are rooted in the place where your personal strengths, your donors’ interests, and your program’s needs all overlap. There isn’t a one-size-fits all strategy, so there can’t be a one-size-fits-all fundraiser.

Whether you’re super intuitive or a detail-oriented planner, it’s helpful to know what approaches suit your needs so that you can be successful. If you are still discovering your personal style, this free asking styles quiz can help you out.

One powerful antidote to imposter syndrome is to abandon a belief in a “right way” of fundraising.

We don’t have to be unicorns, we just have to show up.

And if you show up, you belong.

How to find your fundraising style

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