Facing The Fear of The Ask

September 9, 2014

Guest Blog by Steve Haddad, Principal, Sangha Solutions, Associate Member of Maryland Nonprofits

Get over your fears! Join Steve this Thursday, September 11 for the Webinar: Making the Fearless Ask – The Psychology of Fundraising.

Read the original blog here.

In a popular teaching story, a man being chased by a tiger leaps off a cliff in his attempt to escape. Fortunately, he manages to grab hold of a tree branch growing out of the cliff’s side. As he dangles precariously – tiger pacing above, jutting rocks hundreds of feet below – he screams out in desperation, “Help!” A voice responds, “Yes?” The panicked man answers, “God, is that you?” Again, the voice responds, “Yes.” Terrified, the man shouts, “God, I’ll do anything. Please, just help me.” The voice answers, “Okay then. Just let go.” The man pauses for a moment and calls out, “Is there anyone else there I can talk to?”

Fear is a natural part of being alive and, as such, frequently arises when it’s time to raise money for our causes. We are afraid that it’s not the right time to ask for a gift. We are afraid we will damage friendships and working relationships. And we are afraid that people will say no. Fear is the anticipation of pain and the way we tense ourselves against an imaginary future, so the fear of rejection can be not only painful, but oftentimes personal.

In the space created by fear, we create false refuges for not making an ask. We tell ourselves that our friends will know what to do without asking for their support. We convince ourselves that others can make more effective solicitations than we can. We even allow ourselves to believe that our prospects won’t be interested in supporting our causes, in effect making these important decisions for them.
So what can we do when facing the fear of asking? Very simply, we must learn to let go. Letting go of what seems to be our lifeline is the last thing we want to do in the face of fear, because the jagged rocks and tiger’s jaws are the last places we want to be. But to truly awaken, we must let go of the tree limb and greet that fear with awareness, compassion, and understanding. By doing so, we can introduce others to our important causes. We can present opportunities – instead of obligations – for people to support our work. Most importantly, we can realize our own potential to effect lasting change both within ourselves and in our world.

Join Maryland Nonprofits’ 2014 Annual Conference “Connecting for Impact!” November 5th at the Universities of Shady Grove in Rockville, MD. 



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