Why Fear Pervades Fundraising

Fear is a powerful motivator.  It can motivate you to do some crazy stuff.  I know in my own life fear has gripped me so hard at times that it forbade me to be real, honest and free. When you deal with fear in your own life, it inevitably allows you to see it in others and in institutions.

Personally, when I witness fear, I have this mixed sense of utter sadness and hope all at the same time.  I know that sounds contradictory, but it’s true.

I feel sadness because I can commiserate with that person or organization that is acting out of fear, but  I also feel hope because I know it’s possible to get loose from the grip of fear and move into freedom.

Richard and I have written about fear quite a bit in this blog.  I think that is because both of us have done a lot of inner work identifying our own fears, making us especially tuned into it when we see it faced by colleagues in our industry and non-profits around the country.

This isn’t to say that Richard and I no longer face any fears.  We do.  But, we recognize them now and are there for each other to call them out.

Major Gift Fundraising and fundraising in general is really tough work.  There are extreme highs and equally extreme lows.  As you know, there can be times of stress during the course of the year in which you literally are not sure if you’re going to make it.

And, there can be pressure – a lot of pressure.

This pressure comes from boards, bosses, donors, colleagues, executive directors…and even yourself, all wanting to make sure you are going to “hit” the numbers, say the right things or execute the perfect strategy.

Behind all this pressure is fear.

“I’ll get fired if I don’t make my goal.”  “We won’t be able to create this program if I can’t get this donor to say yes.”  “I’ll make my executive director look bad to the board if we don’t get this funding.”  “If I fail at this I’ll never move up in my career.” “I can’t talk to my boss about this because she’ll hold it against me for years.” “If I recommend this strategy, it could fail.” “I can’t let them execute this new idea because I’ll lose some of my budget and never get it back.” “I can’t resign this position, I’ll never find another job.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  It feels like you’re in the pit of hell.

This is where Richard and I often find the colleagues and organizations with whom we work.  They are gripped so tightly by these fears and others that they don’t move.  We have seen individuals who block strategies, ideas and the growth of colleagues which would improve the organization and allow them to do greater things, all because they are paralyzed by fear.

Are you saddled by fear?

Here is where the “hope” part comes in.  If you can look fear in the eye and realize it’s not going to kill you, you have a chance to find freedom.  Like any paradox in life, it can be a tremendous challenge, but at the same time, very simple.

I know this first hand.

It takes work to overcome fear.  You have to be honest with yourself and with those who are close to you.  But, if you can muster the courage to confront fear, you can be free from it.

Fear prevents us all from moving forward.

Freedom allows us to open our palms and welcome the unknown, embrace change and show grace to one another. It also allows us to take risks, invite collaboration, become bold and courageous and ultimately find the passion we long for in ourselves and in others.

Just think what that can mean in your job and your organization.  Visualize the barriers that could be brought down that are preventing your organization from realizing it’s full potential.

You don’t have to allow fear to take over. Look at it, name it, move it to the side and enter the path to freedom.  That freedom has incredible possibilities for you.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Non-Profits, Philanthopy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Fear Pervades Fundraising

  1. Susan C says:

    Yet again, a post that needed forwarding. My coworkers, volunteers, spouse, and FB friends have all gotten to know “my favorite fundraising bloggers” this year. Thank you for your thoughtful insights on the deeper aspects of this profession.

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