3 min read

Breaking the cycle of fear-based giving benefits donors and nonprofits alike.

As an investment advisor and family facilitator, I have caught myself thinking: how can rich people be so greedy? Or: why can’t they be more generous? Living in Miami Beach, adjacent to the largest private marina on the East Coast, I’m surrounded by proof of financial excess: cars that cost more than my condo; handbags with the same price tag as a life-saving well in South Sudan.

It's tempting to feel nothing but scorn for that degree of excess, but scorn only deepens the divide between me and my neighbors. This separation leaves me bitter and is, ultimately, a symptom of my own sense of longing—even though my life is not lacking. I am healthy, have loyal friends, and enjoy a wonderful career.

By shaking off the fear of missing out, I embrace abundance. This abundant mindset enables me to be truly effective as I work with families with substantial financial assets who want to make a powerful impact in the world. We help them through investing and facilitating family meetings that create internal unity.

If your nonprofit wants to attract more donors or larger donations, the first thing you must examine is your team’s attitude toward money. Your leadership, fundraising, and marketing teams need to be aligned, along with your external stakeholders.


Reduce Fear

Fear is in the air, whether on front pages or in water cooler conversation. No matter where you are, someone is wringing their hands over recessions, crises, downturns, stagflation. Granted, it’s true that donations are down—in 2022, the total number of donors fell by 7 percent compared to 2021. That said, it is possible to move donors away from a fear-based worldview.

By moving away from fear, my clients are able to do good both for their own families and society at large. By creating unity through conversation and planning, they determine when they have “enough,” and what they would like to do with the surplus. Once fears of scarcity are answered, people are excited to open their checkbooks for causes that make real positive change.

Raising money can be a challenge, especially now. As a nonprofit leader, you are asking donors to expand during a time of contraction. The easiest way to be successful at this is to ensure that your own mindset is expansive.


Cultivate Abundance

Instead of asking your donors to give more, strive to help them examine their own relationships with money. Again, focus on cultivating a sense of abundance. This will lead to a more sustainable and impactful approach to giving.

To support your donors on their journey towards a better mindset around money, follow these steps:

  1. Spur donors to explore their unconscious beliefs about money. Often, people have deeply ingrained attitudes towards money that hold them back. They might believe that money is hard to come by, that they are not deserving of wealth, or that having money is somehow a negative thing. By encouraging your donors to examine these thoughts, you can help them develop a more positive relationship with money, freeing them to feel secure, motivated, and inspired in their philanthropy.
  2. Ask them to consider who they are without their money. By helping donors connect with their deeper sense of purpose in life, you can help them see the value of giving beyond just its financial impact. You can also channel this energy towards volunteering or thought leadership activities. By emphasizing the non-financial benefits of giving, you can empower your donors to feel more connected to your cause.
  3. Challenge your donors to define what is “enough.” Help your donors gain a deeper understanding of how much they need to feel secure and fulfilled. As they work through this framework, they will come to internalize that “I have enough” and “I am enough.” They will likely want to share this newfound abundance with those around them, coming to view their donations as an investment not in financial return, but in social return.


Final Thoughts

These three steps can strengthen your relationship with your donors and foster a deeper sense of mutual support. How to get started? Share these tips in your newsletter; cover this important topic in your next podcast episode; or host a workshop focused on cultivating a positive money mindset. I witnessed firsthand the power of this approach while leading a workshop for the Community Foundation of Georgia. An increase in an abundance mindset benefits donors and nonprofits alike.

1 thought on “3 tips for cultivating an abundance mindset in your donors”

  1. Ken Phillips says:

    An excellent perspective! Too many fundraisers are fearful of getting this close to their donors, but they should do exactly that. As a fundraiser and executive director with 30 years of experience in the US followed by 25 more training and consulting with NGOs in 35 countries, I have seen how fundraisers who really get to know their donors (major donors individually and other donors in segments) and challenge them in diplomatic ways will achieve real growth. As VP for fundraising at Save the Children US and Executive Director at what is now called Plan International USA, we tripled our private sector income in this way.

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