Overcoming our Fundraising Fears
What do crickets, skyscrapers, and your 7th-grade history class presentation have in common? They all belong to categories of the biggest fears in the world. We’re all familiar with fear, and whether ours involves creepy-crawlers, heights, public speaking, or plenty more, it often keeps us from fully participating in life.
Now zoom in a bit. What about the fear of asking for money?
“Would you consider donating to my Dressember campaign?”
Here are eight words that have made stronger people than I freeze up. In a previous blog post about my personal Dressember story, I mention recognizing the social risk involved with asking for financial gifts and my hesitancy to fundraise for a spectacular cause. Why is that?
Money is an aspect of life we think we can’t control because its presence is everywhere, and it’s so… big. At the same time, it’s too delicate a topic to venture around in conversation, so we should just avoid it because it’s exceptionally awkward, right?
Money is a means through which a lot of substantial change happens, and people want to be good agents of what they have earned/been given. Evidence even lies in the incredible impact and growth Dressember has experienced over the course of its life as an organization that thrives on collaboration. Without the incredibly generous donations of all sizes, Dressember’s partnerships with International Justice Mission, A21, and the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center would not be as significant.
Dear advocate, don’t be afraid of making bold requests for participation. You’re not a salesperson with an agenda accosting strangers; you’re a friend. You’re a friend of victims and a friend of your family and community, wanting people you love to get involved in this fight with you!
Think about things you can do such as post a photo and a blurb about Dressember on Facebook or ask people if you can send them your campaign link. You can also write brief letters or e-mails to your family and friends explaining the importance of financial gifts for nonprofits against human trafficking. Dare to dream big, but if you’re cautious, perhaps break down your total goal into more manageable pieces by asking for only $5 or $10 at a time or by reaching out to people you know are already socially conscious first.
Remind yourself to think optimistically by remembering the difference that Dressember is making in the lives of real children and adults around the world. If you maintain a mindset of “Hey, this is actually a really important issue, and people will want to know ways they can help,” then when you are sharing about Dressember in conversations or sending personal messages that excitedly outline your own Dressember journey, you’ll communicate more authentically (and probably experience more success!).
"Dear advocate, don’t be afraid of making bold requests for participation. You’re not a salesperson with an agenda accosting strangers; you’re a friend."
Okay, but what if I bother them? What if they feel like I’m guilting them? What if everyone simply says no and I don’t hit my goal? If you’re still uncertain because of your fear of failure, I would encourage you to consider what you actually have control over when it comes to other people. It’s so freeing to avoid taking negative responses personally. If someone is in a position where they truly cannot give or decide it’s not a priority, that is not your fault. You do not have responsibility for their days, their attitudes, and definitely not their wallets. It does not mean you aren’t credible or persuasive enough. As an advocate, your foundational job is not to raise boatloads of money. Your job is to uphold the dignity of all people and encourage others to do the same by sharing the mission of Dressember.
Taking ownership of your campaign can be a fun and extremely rewarding experience, not only when you see your own goal met but when you see the overall Dressember total inching higher! Last year we raised $1.5 million, most of which went toward very real rescue operations, legal fees, trauma-focused therapy, training for survivors to start their own small businesses, and more.
The impact of collective donations is worth stepping outside your comfort zone. That’s what Dressember is all about, after all, making small sacrifices for the good of others. Money may seem too imposing to approach, but the truth is, we’re bigger than a dollar, twenty-five dollars, twenty-five hundred dollars. Asking for money, for most, is a challenge, but it gets easier with confidence in your mission and with a clear vision to share with others. At less than one month, your fellow advocates have already raised over $20,000, so take a deep breath, and dive in with them. I can’t wait to see what we’ll accomplish this winter.
About the Author
Chynna Terrell is an ENFJ studying English Literature at the University of Oklahoma (boomer!). Aside from trying not to think about being a senior, she is president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and is excited to participate again and write for Dressember. And, why yes, she would love to have you over for a hot cup of tea, a puzzle, and good conversation.