lonely fundraiser

Being (one of) the only person responsible for fundraising in a small nonprofit can get pretty lonely.

The other day I was at a local round table for fundraisers and you wouldn't believe the stories people shared about the crazy things non-fundraisers wanted them to do.

You might have read my own blog about writing a letter to Oprah, but others talked about their board suggestions Super Bowl ads (for a small nonprofit with no budget) and other outrageous ideas.

Now, that's one extreme, when everyone around you thinks they know more than you about fundraising.

But then there's the other extreme, when no one wants to touch fundraising with a 10 foot pole! So many people think fundraising is "so hard" or "icky" that they're happy to just ignore it all together (and sometimes that means ignoring you too).

Fundraising in a small shop can be lonely.

Here are three things you can do to be less lonely:

Build a network

Find other people who are in the same boat as you and build a small group of people you can trust to share ideas, get feedback and sometimes, just commiserate. Meet with them formally and informally.

Involve those around you in easy wins

It's not easy to "educate" those around you in this situation. Instead, try involve people in easy wins that will bring them along on a path to understanding fundraising. Involving board members and volunteers in donor thank you calls or hosting friend-raising events can show them what works.


Make sure people feel like they're part of the success, regardless of the role they played. Have fun together and learn to celebrate the small things. This not only helps people feel invested in your fundraising success, but also just helps break silos and build closeness.