I’m not charismatic enough
Why would anyone listen to me? I’m nobody
I’m just not the right person to help
I’m not good at talking to people
It’s gross to ask for money
I know I need to get over my fears, but I can’t
I’m not a people person
I’m really bad at expressing my ideas well.
I don’t like asking for things
I don’t want to bother anybody
These are just a few examples of stories that we tell ourselves about our ability to fundraise.
A lot of people think that the hardest part of fundraising is getting the money. And yes, that takes a wholllle lotta time, patience, and effort.
But the hardest part is actually that we get in our own way. There are all these scripts and stories we tell ourselves about why we can’t do this, why that is just not us, and why it wouldn’t ever work anyway.
Basically you’ve gone and blown up your rocket ship before you even built it! With that kind of thinking, it’s a miracle we ever even bother leaving the house!
Through the mess in our heads before we can even face tackling anything out in the world.
The thing is, I’m super guilty here too. I’ve told myself every single one of these at different times. Sometimes I even pile them up together just to keep things interesting.
The reason I love fundraising so much is that it doesn’t just nudge me out of my comfort zone fort, it dive-bombs my fragile little box until hiding is no longer an option. My childhood best friend explains my personality to other people by starting with “she’s like a turtle…” for a very good reason.
But the wild part is, whenever I actually stop with the stories and take action, I feel awesome after. And the thing that I was so scared about usually turns out to be over way faster than I thought, and not that big of a deal.
Ex: I’m going to come up with the perfect plan, and then I’m totally going to do this!
Sometimes we feel like if we just knew a little bit more, and looked up one more article, read one more book, and took just that one course, then we will know enough to start.
Totally not talking about myself here.
Okay, I am. As a person who makes color coded checklists in order to plan to get ready to start stuff, I get that knowing and doing can feel like two different universes. (And I apologize to everyone in my life who’s had to suffer through my turmoil about even starting this site!)
But my point is that if you’ve ever struggled with this, it’s totally a normal feeling. It’s a thing and it’s not weird. I’m making it not weird…. Well, I probably am making it weird now, but my point is, I’m with you.
Here’s an exercise I do every single week that’s made a HUGE difference in my stories.
To paraphrase it and the hybrid version of it that I do, I keep a journal where a single week basically takes up two pages facing each other.
On one side I write 5 small but effective actions that I want to do every day to move me closer to my goals.
Every day I will keep track of when I do each goal and give myself a start for it. Because I like stars.
For the times I find myself procrastinating on one of those tasks, or flat out skipping it, I write down the reasons I come up with in those moments that push it out. These “reasons” are normally just excuses with heavy makeup on. Normally I keep these on my phone so it’s quick and I remember to do it.
At the end of the week,I pull out my journal ( or two pieces of paper) and start with writing a reflection on how I did that week and what my “wins” and “working ons” were.
Next I’ll take all those excuses (call ‘em what they are) write them all down under the Old Stories section.
Now, here’s where this really gets interesting. Next I re-read every single one of those old stories and rewrite it as something useful (notice I didn’t say positive, I said useful) that I can use to move me closer to those goals next week.
So, “I don’t have the time” turns into “I’ll work on it for 30 minutes”. And “I’m just too tired” is rewritten as “I can do it earlier in the day before I’m tired.”
This exercise is a supercharged way of reprogramming your brain to think differently about the things you know you need to do but struggle with, and to create strong habits in the process. Then, when a task starts to feel normal and automatic, just take it off the list and replace it with something else.
I originally used this for strengthening habits in all areas of my life, but it’s just as effective to apply it to one area like fundraising. Your list could read something like:
- Make 3 calls a day
- Spend 1 hour planning event
- Spend 10 minutes updating budget
- Spend 1 hour on social media promotion
- Schedule one outreach meeting a week
You can even add in self care habits, like 30 minutes of yoga/ meditation that you want to keep up because you know that will help you feel mentally ready to do the rest. Really it’s up to you and what your goals are.
If you want to give it a try, I’ve included an easy printable for you to use. Or feel free to just grab a couple pieces of paper and get right to it.
Try this activity for a month to really get a good sense of where you are, and can track all the amazing progress that you make! Be sure to pop into the facebook group and share.
I love this exercise, so please let me know how it works for you!