2 min read

In order to be an effective fundraiser, you have to remember: it’s not about you.

Fundraisers should be proud of the work they do. Without fundraisers, there are no programs. Without fundraisers, there’s no mission. Without fundraisers, there’s no organization at all.

And without donors, there are no programs, mission, or organization, either. So yes, fundraisers should be proud—but pride alone doesn’t translate to fundraising success. Pride too readily turns to hubris, which alienates donors and is the kiss of fundraising death.


As a fundraiser, you know that yours is a worthy mission. You know that your donor has money to give. You know you can help them advance their goals by giving to you.

You know, you know, you know . . . but tread carefully. Unflinching certainty can lead a fundraiser down a path of pride and presumption—not a road to cents and sensibility.

A first temptation for a fundraiser is to think that donors—or even prospective donors—should always answer their calls and take their meetings. That would be nice, but it’s not reality. It’s not a bug in the system, either.

Your assurance of the importance of your mission and the value you can provide to donors if they decide to support your organization does not suddenly elevate your importance to said donors. Donors (like all of us!) are busy people with countless pulls on their time and attention. However much you or they would benefit from meeting with you, they face countless competing priorities—and you, dear fundraiser, do not skyrocket immediately to the top of their list of priorities.

Humility—as to how much you should command donors’ attention or how much value you can bring to them—will facilitate your fundraising work. If you don’t expect that donors will be responsive to you, you’ll have an easier time pushing through to get the meeting. Otherwise, you’ll come across as presumptive and self-important, i.e., not someone donors want a relationship with.

Staying humble will also help you avoid harboring resentment toward your donors and prospects. It is all too easy to shift from frustration to resentment, but if we keep our ego in check, that escalation in negativity is far less likely.

A second temptation for a fundraiser is to think that supporting your organization is obvious. “They’ve given in the past, why wouldn’t they renew?” Or, “They have capacity and this program will do so much good. A gift is a no-brainer.”

Your job as a fundraiser is not to presume that donors will support you, but to help them see that supporting your organization will help them achieve their goals. You need to take a backseat—it’s not about youand put the donors’ needs and interests first: you must attend to them, understand them, and then help them see how your organization’s mission will advance their goals.


Staying humble—or getting there in the first place—makes the work of fundraising both more fulfilling and more effective.

Humility is important in every area of fundraising, too. From direct response to major gifts, any time you engage with donors and invite them to support your organization, you will be more successful if you steer clear of pride and presumption.

It is not because of you that donors give, and donors do not owe you a gift. Yes, a donor can and hopefully will connect with you personally, but that shouldn’t be your ultimate goal. To be an effective fundraiser, you need to step back and become a conduit for connecting the donor with your organization’s mission.

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