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Mayes Wilson & Associates

Embrace your inner fundraiser this year

Julie Whelan Capell |

An old color photo of three young girls and two adult women in old-fashioned Girl Scout uniforms

The author, far right, being sworn in as a Brownie Girl Scout

In my many years as a fundraising consultant, one of the topics I am asked to present on the most frequently is how to make the “ask.” For board members in particular, it seems asking for money is the hardest part of their responsibilities. Never mind that actually asking for donations is something most board members will probably never have to do, it is what most people think of as the essence of fundraising. And so they automatically think “please let me to do anything but fundraising.”

And this doesn’t just apply to board members. Most staff of nonprofits also feel that fundraising is the last thing they want to be involved in.

If this describes you, I would like to suggest that you take a different approach and try embracing your inner fundraiser.

A Lesson from Girl Scouts

I first started thinking about how we all have an inner fundraiser when I was asked to present at a career fair for middle school-aged Girl Scouts. My initial excitement quickly turned to hesitation and then to actual dread as I thought about how I could set up a table about fundraising that would be interesting to 13-year-old girls.

I’m not going to pretend my fundraising booth at that career fair was a success–in fact, it was a spectacular flop!

I didn’t realize at the time that even though those girls had absolutely no notion of fundraising—or even nonprofits—the truth is they were already fundraisers.

Selling Girl Scout cookies is the most obvious sign of induction into the adult world of philanthropy, but so are many other Girl Scout activities: a community service project, a visit to a nursing home, a donation of handmade blankets to the local children’s hospital. As adults, they will be able to look back and realize these activities formed the foundation of a lifetime of fundraising activities–their inner fundraiser.

I share some ideas about how to start in this downloadable resource article Embrace Your Inner Fundraiser, which includes four questions to help change your relationship with fundraising. These questions will help you connect with how good it feels to raise money for causes you are really passionate about.  And that, my friends, is the secret to finding your inner fundraiser and getting past your fear of asking for money.

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