Are you the one person in your office who does everything?

Do you wear “Fundraiser” as one of your many hats and get frustrated when there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done?

This is a common complain among staff in small nonprofit organizations.

How you answer those questions and respond to them will determine whether or not you’ll be successful in raising money.

If you dread raising money or if you leave it until last, your results will be dismal.fundraising is hard

If you embrace it and give it the attention it deserves, you’ll love the results you get.

This is about mindset or how you think about things. The framework that you use to view the world has a huge impact on how you act and what you do.

For example, if you think fundraising is hard, guess what? It is!

Here are some suggestions for staying in a positive mindset when you’re the Lone Ranger of nonprofit fundraising.

First, know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. In other words, have a plan. If you don’t know what needs to get done during the day, you’ll float from one thing to the next and at the end of the day, you’ll wonder what you did, which can give you a sense of uselessness. Instead, be clear about your goals for the day and focus on getting them done. At the end of the day, you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment. To crank this up a notch, keep a journal of everything you got done and good things that happened during the day. When you focus on the positive, you’ll feel great about your work and it will show!

Second, surround yourself with support. Most of us have friends we can talk to, but we don’t lean on them until something bad happens. Instead, put some purposeful support in place. Have a regular meeting with a mentor or a colleague so that you can air your frustrations in private. Get a coach to help you make decisions and set goals. Make sure to spend time with people who are a positive influence on you and pull you forward.

Third, play to your strengths. Do only those things that you are really good at and get help with the rest. You don’t have to hire someone to take over those tasks. Recruit a volunteer or get an intern to help you. Consider outsourcing things that you aren’t good at. Hire a contract person to help write grants if you can’t stand writing. Just get help. You might find ways to automate some things so that they don’t take as much time. And there are probably things you’re doing that you should simply stop doing, because they don’t need to be done in the first place. Remember, you have limited time and energy and creativity during the day, so spend them on the things that really matter.

Finally, keep your head in the game. Be passionate about the cause you are working for and spend time regularly on the front lines to fire up that passion. This can help you more than anything else! Looking someone in the face who is receiving help from your nonprofit and seeing them smile might be all you need to keep your heart burning and your mind focused on the things you need to do.

When you work in a small organization, it’s easy to get resentful of the “big” nonprofits, because they have lots of staff and scads of volunteers and they get all the big donors, right?

If that thought or a variation of it runs through you head, I want you to kick it out and replace it with something better. Just remember that every big nonprofit was once exactly where yours is right now. The only difference is that someone at that big organization hung in there and stayed focused, and good things started to happen.

You hang in there and it can happen for you, too!

Sometimes you need someone to lean on when fundraising is hard

I believe we are all here on this planet to have the experiences life brings us, and to help one another.

This week, I had the chance to do both.

I was in my exhibit booth at a conference, talking with people about which of my fundraising books they should choose, when a woman walked up and sort of looked around uncomfortably, then looked me right in the eye.

She said, “I need some help,” then broke into tears.

fundraising is hard

That was not the first time someone has cried in front of me, but it was the first time that a total stranger needed me in a public place like that. I think there must be something about me that’s very approachable or understanding or trustworthy or some combination of those. It’s actually happened several times since then. I take it as a high compliment that people trust me enough to be that vulnerable.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had so much training to be a good listener or maybe it’s because I know how to connect with people on a deep level. Either way, she needed me and I knew how to be there for her.

When I looked into her eyes, I saw someone who cared deeply about what she was trying to do.

She was doing everything she could and yet still not able to quite make it work. I got it.

I asked her if we could start with a hug and she nodded. Then she cried on my shoulder.

Right there in the middle of that exhibit hall, in the middle of that conference.

Her story is not so uncommon.

She’s trying to run an animal rescue organization from her home and fund it herself. She’s figured out that fundraising is hard.

She doesn’t really know how to do fundraising or ask for support, so she’s feeling a lot like the Lone Ranger. Even though she’s doing everything she knows to do, she’s still not raising enough money which means she can’t save as many animals as she feels drawn to.

And it’s heartbreaking when you have to say “no.”

In that moment, I think she needed someone to care more than anything else.

So, I stood there and loved her to the best of my ability. It was an amazing experience for me.

It reminded me that at the end of the day, it isn’t really about how much I can teach you about raising money.

It’s about how much I’m there for you, supporting you, cheering you on, and helping you reach your goals.

It’s about me encouraging you and telling you how much I believe in you.

And I think we can ALL use more of that. Especially when fundraising is hard.