Find Your Fundraising Tribe

This week has been awesome, after what has been a pretty brutal stretch of bad news, uncertainty, and general worry.


For those that don’t follow my adventures on Social Media, my dad has been fighting esophageal cancer and reeling from chemo and radiation treatments for the past few months. It’s one of the least funded and least researched cancers, and the way to fight it, is to basically carpet bomb the body – not necessarily with pin-point accuracy – poison to slow any potential spread.


As someone who cut his teeth fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – an orphan disease which received ZERO funding from the government because of how few individuals it affected – this fight stirs up a lot of emotion as I flashback to conversations with parents and family members who battled for experimental research to help their kids, not only survive, but thrive.


And on Monday, we got PET scan results back that said the tumor has shrunk, nothing spread to any other part of the body, and that my dad can gear up for surgery at the end of the month!


Boom. Finally some great news!


This whole experience has really put into focus who my tribe is, who I can lean on to get advice, and who I can just download every emotion to and get excellent and empathetic perspective back.


May I suggest if you don’t have a group of folks to lean on, it’s the absolute best.


But where do you find your people to help you on your fundraising and nonprofit leadership journey?


Here are a few places you might want to look!


1. Your Local Chamber of Commerce


There might not be a better group to be associated with, join or participate with than your local or regional Chamber. And you might be saying, “but that’s just a bunch of businesses, not nonprofits!” It might be true – and that can make you the Unicorn in a Field of Horses!


Business leaders are always looking for ways to give more value to their employees – outside of just a raise here and there. Associating with a nonprofit to help make impact in the community they have planted roots is a great added benefit, and your organization could be a business’s new mission to help!


Additionally, getting access to so many successful business leaders can really reshape the way you run your nonprofit, the way you lead your team, and the way you interact with donors, supporters and volunteers. Find a mentor, attend events, connect with like-minded do-gooders – regardless if they are a nonprofit or not – and ask to pick their brain about the state of the community, their view on philanthropy and if their rolodex has anyone who would benefit from the services you provide!


The investment in joining such a tight knit group will give you access to a brain trust of future board members, supporters, and champions of your mission.


2. Social Media Groups


Ok, normally, Social Media platforms are the worst. No one really needs to constantly scroll through the Valley of the Trolls to benefit their mental wellness. But there is power in connecting with like minded individuals who happen to all share the trials and tribulations of working at and fundraising for nonprofits.


From Nonprofit Happy Hour and our very own #DoGoodersNetwork – there are countless groups to ask questions without being pounced on for you inexperience or ignorance of process and procedure. Most of the online groups exists to help lift up leaders like yourself who just need a safe space to be inquisitive without feeling like a failure for not knowing the answer.


Most groups have wonderful rules about not allowing consulting groups to pitch at you, but genuinely encourage questions, engagement and assisting others who are doing their best to help move their mission forward.


You’ll also realize that you’re not alone in your thinking, frustration and desire to celebrate even the smallest wins.


Also, memes. There are SO many memes. It’s well worth the effort to joining just for that.


3. Personal & Professional Coaches


Everyone needs a coach. Like, everyone.


Heck, coaches need coaches.


I was skeptical of this for YEARS and as a business owner, I really struggled letting go of the idea that I could pull myself up by my bootstraps alone.


Oh, I was so wrong.


Truth be told, I have TWO business coaches. We meet every Friday, and I wrap my entire schedule around that meeting. It’s the most valuable hour of my week with, what has become, my closest allies in business and personal development.


As a fundraiser, this might be your soon-to-be superpower. Like having an extra pair of eyes, ears and perspective. I cannot stress how important it is to look outside of your own horse-blinder-head-down-get-after-it attitude that makes you such an awesome human.


Having someone, or a group of someone’s, help cheer you on, lift you up, push you forward, or drag you kicking and screaming to a better route for your organization, is priceless. From a life coach, business coach or PERHAPS A FUNDRAISING COACH!? – I’d suggest looking into investing in yourself to help make you the best employee, fundraiser, parent or friend you can be.


I got to share my dad’s good news with my inner circle this week, and they were as happy and enthusiastic as I was.


I didn’t have to celebrate alone. I had my tribe applauding too.


Go ahead. Get yourself a crew. Your mental health will thank you.


You got this!


-Patrick