I don’t know if I’ll ever be not uncomfortable when I hear the word “fundraising.” My mind immediately goes to selling cookie dough in elementary school, or selling food to help my high school’s band program. Which, in most cases, has been just family being the main contributors.
When you’re someone who doesn’t tend to deviate away from keeping to myself and not bothering others, fundraising feels like the exact opposite. The last thing I want to do is walk door-to-door and ask strangers for money. If those strangers are anything like me, they probably wouldn’t even answer the door anyways. They’d just duck under the windows until I go away. (Yes, I basically have a stop-drop-roll maneuver to avoid answering the door. Judge away.)
But inevitably, I cannot avoid this basic activity. In fact, for many of the groups and organizations I am and want to be involved in, fundraising is a major aspect of being a member. If I want to launch any of my own ideas and projects off the ground, I have to have the funds to do so, and I certainly cannot afford paying for things out-of-pocket. I am a college student, after all.
In fact, my current internship requires that I fundraise. Of course in the hiring process I was all up for the challenge and was more than eager to do my best work, but when stuck in my own thoughts, of course I psych myself out. Fundraising is a concept that is outside of my comfort zone of how I like to contribute to my work, so when it’s a requirement, I have no choice but to face it head-on.
So you may be expecting this self-proclaimed socially anxious introvert to have some magic solution to how to fulfill the protocol of fundraising without having a existential crisis in the process, and I wish I had a solid answer. Luckily there are online options available these days, but even then, people just won’t care or give anything unless they’re asked.
What seems fairly simple to do, make a mere request, can be very intimidating. I completely understand that. I live that. In our heads, we build up crazy scenarios and turn a little gesture into a life-or-death statement. Even for something like fundraising, an act that very few of us have never done before. We all get it. We’ve been there. So there’s no reason to isolate our own fears as something brand-new and foreign to human nature.
Let’s face it: any types of sales, whether that be fundraising or selling anything else, is a job dedicated to extroversion. The personalty type first became championed over introversion once the Western world exploded with consumerism and being a compelling salesperson became ideal. You have to be outgoing, outspoken, lively. How else are you supposed to rouse donors to support your cause?
But of course, what is necessary is balance. As much as it’s great to raise your voice loud enough for all to hear, people need someone who listen to their interests and concerns, and an introvert is a natural listener. We can pinpoint specific people and talk to them on a personal level that, in my opinion, is a better method than flashy advertising. We are purposeful with our words, honing in on the information that matters.
Inevitably, regardless of your personality and setbacks, we all must face a point where we must stretch from our comfort zones. The most effective means of fundraising at the end of the day is one-on-one and face-to-face. But once you recognize your strengths, you can choose the best method that works for you. Personally, this process will start with a progression from social media outreach directing people to an online fundraising page, to sending out letters, to going from there. It’s putting the time and thought into activities that are reasonable but potentially challenging for you. Maybe just target smaller groups of people at a time and focus on the relationships you can build versus the money you want to make.
With as many ideas and opportunities out there these days, the options for fundraising are limitless. If you have something important to say, then chances are, your own hesitancy will be your biggest obstacle. Introverts and extroverts alike will at some point “fake” being each other, forcing everyone out of their norms to either speak out or quiet down, respectively.
When it comes to fundraising, we aren’t all going to fall into the category that loves hosting events and going to parties. There are others to do that. You bring your own unique skills to the table, and that is the fuel driving a successful fundraising effort waiting to happen. We don’t have to fall into a stereotype of success to actually accomplish our goals. In fact, we should be admiring those who innovate, who challenge themselves and offer a fresh perspective on a timeless activity.
Yes, I’m still anxiety-ridden. But I know that if I can make the most of this opportunity, learn and grow from it, and do my part for my organization, then I know the effort will be worth it. And if I can do it, so can anybody else.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie