Recalibrate Your Attitude

What do you think about when you think about fundraising?  Do you feel that you are begging? That you are hitting on someone?  That it is painful, embarrassing, hard?  Do you quiver at the thought of rejection, so much so that you can’t even envision being accepted? These seem to be the accepted thoughts of people working with and at nonprofits.  Whether I am working with staff or volunteers, these are the feelings and thoughts that get shared when I say that “f” word.

So I ask you—am I in the minority?  I think of fundraising as simply offering an opportunity to someone to support good works.  I think of it as a gift you give to the potential donor as much as a gift you are requesting from that same prospect.

I’ve been lucky.  I’ve worked with many donors who have shared their joy in the support they were able to provide my organization.  I’ve spoken with many volunteers who are proud of what they do and prouder still when that includes a cash gift.

So, ok, I’m a bit of a Pollyanna.  I think the “f” in fundraising should stand for fortunate, fabulous, fantastic, fun.  Fundraising, I truly believe, offers all that and more to donors who are making a difference at organizations that change lives, make miracles, offer a safe haven.  And how lucky am I to be part of this?

If you can’t see fundraising in this light, then let me ask you something:  Why are you working at or involved with a nonprofit?

I’m not trying to chase anyone away.  I simply want those who need to, to re-calibrate their attitude.

I also want staff who look at their boards as barriers, unhelpful, more than a little bit of a pain to consider what they are doing to help those board members be more effective.  And Boards to consider that perhaps they need to explain to staff what would help them do what the staff is asking rather than either saying “Sure, I’ll do that” and not do it, or simply not say anything at all.

After all, it’s not really about us, is it?  It’s about those we serve, the communities we improve, the differences we make

So adjust your attitude; think in a whole new way.  You will be amazed at the difference it will make.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to improve fundraising capacity and be more effective.  Learn how she can help your organization at  Or email her at