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15 Aug

Want to be Truly Empowered? Learn to Fundraise

I spend a lot of time talking about fundraising or financial resource development, a term I prefer. People always look at me with such surprise when I tell them I like it and don’t view it as a “necessary evil”.

Connecting the dots looking back, my chosen profession makes total sense. In high school, I wrote to companies to ask for sponsorship and in-kind donations for a carnival for adults with developmental delays that my synagogue’s youth group was putting on. I also appeared before our local Federation board to report on its investment in teen travel to Israel and ask for an increase in funding. Starting at 14, I volunteered at political fundraisers, checking coats and making name tags etc.

During college, I worked at my school’s tele-fund, where students call parents and alumni for donations. It was literally the best job ever. I got to talk on the phone and got paid extra for increases, new gifts etc. I cleaned up.

My first job out of college was a grassroots organizer that had many fundraising components embedded. I had no “formal” training, but it was natural to me. I loved the lists, the connections, the conversations and making the case for a cause that I cared about.

The fact that I am comfortable asking for money is innate and the result of early exposure and years of study and practice. Someone asked me the other day, “I know you are good at what you do, but do you like it?” The fact is that I do not only like fundraising,  I LOVE it!

Upon reflection, here is why. I love raising money and teaching people how to raise money because it is empowering. Once you can confidently raise funds – for your nonprofit or your start-up business – you have the freedom to pursue your mission and calling. Being able to talk about money and ask for funds is a gift that you give yourself that enables you to fulfill your dreams. If you can successfully attract investors, you can ask for anything you want and need. Next to public speaking and writing well, I can’t think of a more important professional skill. Organizations that invest in training their staff, boards and committees are giving them a real lifetime benefit.

The best part is that fundraising can be taught and acquired as a learned skill. Sometimes training works best in large groups, sometimes in smaller cohorts and other times, one on one coaching is the right approach.  I have taken so many people from reluctant askers to proud solicitors. I want you to be empowered and LOVE fundraising too!  Let’s get started.

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