Let’s take a minute to be super honest here. Fundraising sounds epic. Like you’re saving the world. Like Wonder Woman. Or Beyonce. Yes, you are King Bey yielding a projectile tiara and a lasso of truth! #whoruntheworld
It sounds great and noble, and makes you feel damn good about the impact that you can make. But let’s face it, before the 6-figure events with fancy gowns or that super successful block party where whole community can’t wait for next year, it can be super overwhelming. And scary. And just A LOT.
Sometimes it’s hard to get started.
I hear a lot of advice out there that says you just have to Start. Take Action. Just Do It.
But what do you do when it’s a battle to “just do it”?
Fundraising and reaching out to people is my job. The planning events part, I totally got. I LOVE planning, strategy, and figuring out how to put pieces together. But when I have to pick up the phone or email someone, I have a massive fight with myself. Every. Single. Time.
First, its that I will literally find every excuse I can to put it off.
Well, I can do this other thing first. And this thing. Oh, can’t forget this thing!
Oh look, this random thing that I hardly ever use needs to be cleaned.
Okay. I’m tired. I’ve totally accomplished enough today. I’ve been working so hard! I’ll make the calls tomorrow.
But there is this other half of my brain at the same time saying. Just do it. Just do it now. NOW. I can’t believe you’re not doing this. Any other person could just knock it out. You’re being weak. Its pretty pathetic actually. Why are you even trying to do this? You’re clearly not cut out for it.
Why? Why do any of us feel this way? Why do we have such negative self talk about what we can and can’t accomplish?
Because in these moments, we lose accountability and credibility with ourselves.
If someone tells me to do something, no matter how uncomfortable, eventually it gets done because I feel like I HAVE to. As much as my wild-child side resents being told what to do, I’ve somehow become dependent on needing to please others.
Can you relate?
The thing I learned is that I would spend an hour, a day, hell, a week putting something off, and beating myself up about putting it off. When I finally got fed up enough to do it, normally it didn’t take that long, wasn’t all that scary in the moment, and I felt great after it’s done.
Your mind can seriously work against you, and the worst part is, when you realize that it’s happening, you have YEARS of patterned thinking to sludge through and rebuild in order to get somewhere positive.
The good news is, you can totally rebuild trust and accountability with yourself. And it’s actually a super simple process.
It starts with something small.
Break one of your goals down to the smallest possible tasks. The point here isn't to do #allthethings. It’s to get your brain in the habit of thinking that you're a person that takes action.
For instance, if you really need to start making donation calls, but fear of rejection is stopping you in your tracks, then try breaking down the task.
Instead of trying to convince yourself not to be afraid in order to start (which usually involves a whole lotta self bullying), just say okay, I'm going to make 3 calls every day. It doesn't matter if they say yes or not. I'm just talking to three people.
Tell yourself, that anyone can make three calls. You can definitely make 3 calls.
Now, here is the key. After you make those calls, The day is a win. Be sure to take a moment to remind yourself that you said you were going to make 3 calls, and you did. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back, do a quick happy dance, whatever gets you going.
You can definitely pick that phone up and keep dialing. In fact, that might really work for you because then you’ve got some momentum going. But after the task, the day is a win.
What I do is I actually limit myself to the small task for about a week or so because it helps me not only gain trust in myself that I can do it, but it also puts in my head that the task wasn't that scary after all, and I could do a few more. So the next week I’ll do 5 calls. Then work up to 10. Whatever the goal is, you are only raising it to a point where you can stay consistent.
Maybe when you raise it to 10, you suddenly find yourself getting anxious and start to go to the excuses again.
That's totally okay. It’s actually exactly what you want. Now you can readjust to something that is still highly productive, but comfortable. Maybe that means 5 calls.
The point here is that you keep a habit going any way that you need to. Because 3 calls every weekday for a month is 60 chances to connect with people. And that's a whole hell of a lot better than zero.
I definitely do this every day to get me to my highest goals.
Most of us have spent a lifetime unconsciously reinforcing negative thoughts about who we are and what we’re capable of. All that isn’t just going to go away the first time you try.
Give yourself time to learn to trust, love, and believe in yourself again. It won’t always be perfect. You’ll be awkward sometimes. You’ll say something weird to someone, and after be wondering where the hell that came from. It happens.
But this is a moment to show grace. As you would to someone else.
I’m sure you’ve been in a conversation with someone, and they’ve said something that was a little off, or too honest, or told a bad joke. Did you write that person off in that moment and walk away vowing to never waste time on them again?
Unless they were downright offensive, probably not. You both moved past it, and it wasn’t even a big deal to you.
We need to remember that when we connect. The other person probably doesn’t notice, and definitely doesn’t feel our mistakes the way we do.
Try laughing it off a little.
One thing that works for me is I will just be honest about being nervous, and people are usually really forgiving and even supportive in those moments.
Don’t let your pride stop you. It’s really not worth it to let your ego get in the way of making connections with other amazing people.
I know these things might seem too simple, but trust me, they work. The goal here isn’t to be an amazing fundraiser if it also means that you become a One Hit Wonder and have no idea how to do it again. Or for this to stress you out every time you have to do it.
The goal is to build something sustainable. Skills that are strong in their foundation and will last. A little more Great Pyramids, and a little less Eeyore’s House.
If this was helpful to you, or you’ve done similar things to keep you in the game, let me know in the comments below, or join us in the facebook group. I’d love to hear from you.