How to Overcome the Fear of Fundraising

Mar 8, 2019Donors, Fundraising, Fundraising Success, Leadership, Mindset, Overcoming Fear, Philanthropy

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How to Overcome the Fear of Fundraising


Are you ready to overcome the fear of fundraising?

Let me share with you about overcoming a different kind of fear and intimidation.

For almost three years now, I drive a race car on a road racetrack for the thrill of it. I know – it sounds crazy, right?

Well, it is exhilarating and, believe it or not, very safe.

But it was not always enjoyable at first. There was one problem.

I needed to overcome the fear and intimidation of the more experienced drivers on the course. Without a doubt, it had me paralyzed. My fear was holding me back from advancing and enjoying the experience.

Overcoming Fear and Intimidation

This particular weekend while at the mandatory drivers’ meeting, I realized I was the ONLY female there. In other words, I was the only female driving in any group all weekend.

As I sat quietly in my seat against the window in the back of the room, I recognized I had two choices – pack up and go home or toughen up.

I knew in minutes I would be driving with these guys on a course going over 100 miles an hour on straightaways and approaching hairpin curves. It was unnerving thinking about it.

Nevertheless, I decided right then that I would not let this massive amount of testosterone in the room or on the track scare me!

I told myself that I was there to learn and enjoy driving the car.

I would let no fear and apprehension get the best of me.

Creating Breakthroughs

More importantly, I needed a plan. So to be incognito, after leaving the meeting I slide my helmet on my head before anyone knew which car I would be driving.

You see, one of my favorite instructors once told me I would be better off if the guys didn’t know a female were passing them. They would not be so determined and aggressive to keep me from passing them.

It worked!

I had my best day ever that day on the track. I held my own. In fact, I was passing cars in the straight, gaining on others in the turns, and enjoying every minute of it.

I knew it was not about muscle on the course. Actually, it was about strategy, intense focus, and having confidence in my car and in myself.

After a great race, I knew I had a breakthrough.

Creating Peak Experiences

Later, it hit me — that’s the same about fundraising!

To overcome the fear of fundraising, you must have a strategy, stay focused on what brings results, and become comfortable with asking for money.

For me, it started with a mindset shift.

One of my favorite authors, Benjamin Hardy, says, “In order to change and evolve, you need to regularly create peak experiences — those moments which create deep awe, gratitude, and a shift in how you see yourself and the world” “Life is, inherently, a learning experience.”

Asking for money may be a new learning experience for you.

Start with a mindset shift.

The Mindsets to Overcome the Fear of Fundraising

Here are the mindsets you must embrace as you think about asking people for money:

1) Be Grateful

Be grateful that you are in a unique position to help others. You serve as the conduit between those with the means to give and those in need.

This is a huge opportunity for you. Certainly, recognize it and embrace your opportunities as a fundraiser.

2) Know That Fundraising Is Not About Money

Fundraising is about allowing someone to make a difference. It feels good to give. So enable others to leave a legacy in areas meaningful to them. How exciting is that!

3) You Must Build Trust

People give to causes they care about and trusted leadership. Clearly, the more you get to know a person, the easier it is to ask them to invest in your cause.

As a comparison, fundraising is like dating – you would not ask someone to marry you on the first or even second date! Trust the process, and give it time.

4) Don’t Take “no” Personally

Finally, know that receiving a “no” from a donor ask visit is not defeat. Don’t let your ego get bruised.

“No” means not now. Maybe the ask was not aligned with their passion, they have demands you are unaware of, or they need more cultivation.

Indeed, learn as much as you can about the donor — their likes and dislikes, their passions, their hobbies, their business ventures. Donors become part of your nonprofit family.

Give the process more time and do more homework. Then plan to approach your potential donors again.


In summary, it’s normal to have a slight sense of apprehension and fear when you think about fundraising. It’s difficult to overcome the fear of fundraising.

I can relate.

Like road race car driving, you get a feel for fundraising the more you do it.

After we get past those first few turns and visits with great success, we become much more comfortable asking people for support. We create “more peak experiences.”

Read What Motivates a Donor to Give.


Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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