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Do You Feel Guilty Raising Money?

I had a chat with a client this week about feeling guilty raising a significant amount of money from a single donor - as they thought there might be organizations who could use it more. They have been showered in abundance, and there was almost a bit of sadness in the receipt of the gift.

It was ironic, because almost to the DAY, I wrote about this same subject 2 years ago. It still applies today. And figured it deserved another publication to remind everyone that individuals giving to you your nonprofit is the way they express themselves...and that's ok!

[Originally written 4.17.20]

I had a fascinating conversation with a friend and nonprofit colleague today about her hesitation to make asks during the COVID-19 shutdown. When pressed why she felt that way, her response rocked me: “I think there are other organizations that deserve it more than we do right now.”

She had fundraising guilt.

To be honest, I’ve never thought about this as an emotion felt by those in charge of soliciting gifts. Nonprofits are not only struggling themselves but are so in tune with the needs of others, that they are contemplating forgoing their own campaigns to limit the asks in the community.

As noble as this altruistic mindset is, we as the nonprofit world need to keep focused on one thing: it’s the donor’s need to give, not your need to have (or in this case, receive).

Regardless of your position on ranking nonprofits in order of greatest need, there are supporters of your organization that believe in your mission, programs, services and impact.

Sometimes more than you might.

And the way they feel joy and purpose and control in a world that is increasingly less personable, is giving to those that you serve.

You’re the vessel for your donor’s desire to do good.

As much as you may feel that there are more worthy causes on the front lines of this pandemic, it is critical to understand that those who are deeply connected to your nonprofit look at your organization in the same way.

And as much as you may feel a twinge of guilt that funds are being donated to your nonprofit, and not others, it is critical to understand that your organization matters.

You do incredible things.

You make a difference.

You make your community better.

We’re a special breed in the nonprofit world. We care deeply about others and are drawn, instinctively it seems, to be helpers.

But we’re also responsible for those we serve and the donors who have helped fund what we have created thus far. To sit back and wait to move forward until this all “blows over” would signal to your past or current supporters that we aren’t willing to fight for our mission.

So fight we must.

There were countless organizations doing great work before this pandemic, and there will continue to be countless organizations doing great work when this pandemic is all over. And we, as nonprofit and fundraising leaders, need to make sure we’re there for the future.

So keep fundraising. Keep providing reasons for those who believe in you to give generously and feel great doing it. Keep being that positive and enthusiastic ambassador for good.

We’ve got this.



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