Overcome Your Fear of Asking

by | Apr 21, 2023 | Donor Relations & Stewardship, Fundraising, Leadership Coaching

Asking for a donation can be challenging. Some of my executive coaching clients and nonprofit CEOs often make it harder on themselves by creating fears that limit their success. They stay in their office and handle administrative tasks, plan events, or attend lots of meetings instead of going out and meeting directly with donors. 

If you want to be a successful nonprofit leader and fundraiser, you must overcome your fear of asking for a donation and help others overcome their fear.

Have you ever experienced fear of any of these: 

  • asking for a gift
  • rejection
  • making someone angry
  • not knowing what to say
  • asking for the wrong amount
  • feeling unprepared
  • looking foolish

Board members have fears, too

Fear of asking for a donation can also make nonprofit board members resistant to fundraising, especially if they’ve never raised money for a nonprofit or worked in a public-facing sales role like banking, real estate, or pharmaceutical sales.

Board members don’t want to feel rejected. They may be fearful, so they avoid asking. They take on many other tasks but avoid having face-to-face asking conversations with donors. 

We can help board members overcome their fear of asking by showing them how to articulate their passions and giving priorities and understand ways that our work intersects with the interests and giving priorities of donors. 

How can you overcome your fear of asking for a donation?

Look at your past successes

Have there been other situations in life where you’ve succeeded in overcoming your fears? Are there times in your life when you felt fearful yet overcame it and experienced success? Maybe you wanted to ask for a raise or apply for a new job. Maybe you wanted to ask someone to go on a date or marry you. 

Did you feel fearful about taking on a big project? How did it turn out?

We’ve all been there. How did you successfully overcome your fear of asking? What techniques worked for you? Did you get brave and bold and just go for it?

You can apply that same knowledge and technique to a new situation.

Preparation is key

The keys to conquering your fear of asking for a donation are to: 

1) prepare for the conversation.

2) plan what you want to ask the donor and how you will address their questions. 

3) practice & visualize a successful ask and the donor saying “yes.”

4) realize that a no is just a no, or a “not right now / not for that project.” You can almost always ask again later for a different request or project.

5) acknowledge that you won’t receive a yes for every ask or every request, and that’s ok.

The more you perform a behavior like asking for a donation from a donor or a raise from your boss, the better you’ll get. 

It’s normal and human to have fears. But you can overcome them. 

The first step is to admit you have them rather than ignore them and occupy yourself with fundraising busyness. Use that nervous energy or anxiety as fuel to prepare and plan your meeting.

Leading others

It’s our role as fundraising leaders to help our staff and volunteers, including board members, overcome their fear of asking. Guiding them to prepare, plan, and practice is so important if we want to be successful. 

As fundraising leaders, we can coach our board through exercises and discussions about giving and philanthropy. 

Let’s talk

I love to talk to nonprofit CEOs about this topic because it’s such a common fear AND one that’s easy to conquer. 

Reach out to me if you’d like to talk about how I can help you or your board overcome your fear of asking for a donation through executive coaching.