Plan for Failure – Don’t Fear It

Sometimes the idea of writing that grant proposal, or reaching out to the friend of a friend, or sitting down for coffee with a new prospect seems daunting and paralyzing. What if they say no? Where do I even start to ensure that I don’t fail?

Well, there’s a good chance they will say no… or not right now. And that’s ok. Getting told “no” is part of fundraising and I might say, life in general. The one thing you can count on is if you don’t ask or try, you will never be told yes.

The best thing to do is just get out there and give fundraising a shot. Do your research. Talk to your Board. Find a connection. Understand the best way to reach out to the potential donor. Then take the leap. Leave your comfort zone. Put yourself out there. Talk passionately about the mission and work you love.

Understand that you will be told no. Plan on that. Give yourself time to talk to people, build relationships, and learn from your mistakes. But maintain your optimistic mentality by knowing you will also be told yes. Maybe not right away, but soon. The more you try, the more you will learn, and the more you will be told yes in the future.

I’ve found the hardest part of fundraising is not being told no. It’s simply getting started and building some momentum. So, take a step, any step forward, and keep moving.

You’re most likely to be told yes if you practice a few simple steps to good fundraising. Michael Johnson, past President and CEO of our Boys and Girls Club, recently provided these simple tips on LinkedIn. They are easy, great reminders for successful development.

From Michael Johnson, CEO and President of United Way of Cincinnati:

Here are ten things to consider when making a good sales pitch. Here are my thoughts:

✔️Do your research and be prepared
✔️ Define the issue/come up with solutions
✔️ Make a compelling case/tell stories
✔️ Make it urgent/ make eye contact
✔️ Share how your plan/ does it add value
✔️ Focus on the benefits. …
✔️ Have personality and energy
✔️ Make sure you are not scripted
✔️ Make it about the issue
✔️ Follow up and be concise


You’ve got this! Get out there a give fundraising a try!