We work with a lot of non-profit and religious organizations, many of whom struggle with financial stability. Leaders in these organizations may know that fundraising is important to the future of their organizations, but many have a reluctance or even aversion to it.
We often suggest in working with clients who have difficulty with fundraising that they construct a personal “Money Autobiography” using these questions as a starting point:
- What attitude did your family have toward money?
- What was your attitude toward money as a teenager?
- How did your attitude or feelings shift at the different transition stages in your life?
- How do you feel about your present financial state?
- How has your approach to money and its uses been shaped by being: a woman? a man? a person of color? single? married? priest? religious?
- How have your attitudes and behaviors been shaped by the church?
Fleshing out your own relationship with money and how it has shifted throughout your life can help you understand your attitude–positive or negative–toward fundraising. Theologian Henri Nouwen suggests that the reason many people find it difficult to even talk about money, much less ask for it, is because their sense of security is based on having enough of it.
If your sense of security is tied solely to your money, it’s understandable why you would be uncomfortable asking somebody else to give up a piece of their security base. Constructing your Money Autobiography can help you separate your sense of security from money. And, as Nouwen says, “When you are free from money, you can ask for it.”
It is doubtful that many of us can completely free ourselves from dependence on money, but the Money Autobiography can offer us a different perspective. And with that changed perspective, it is possible truly to see fundraising as an opportunity you are offering to potential donors, not a necessary evil done solely to keep your organization afloat. Fundraising becomes another way that you further your mission, by inviting a wider circle of people to support it.