Image of a whisper to symbolize your brain talking to you - Self talk, body chemistry, and successful fundraisingWhat we say to ourselves can sink our fundraising program.

He’s probably not interested.

I’m probably bugging her.

They get “hit” by everyone so they won’t want to talk to me.

When we say things like that, we think we’re being “honest” or “realistic.” But we’re actually creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. These thoughts often physically affect us, causing our shoulders to sag a little and our voice to lose some enthusiasm.

Just trying to help us

In his classic book Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz calls our brains “goal seeking mechanisms.” Our brain wants us to be successful at the goals we set. When we say, “Oh this will never work,” our brains go to business pulling together all the reasons why we’re right, why it will never work.

Another author, Dr. David Schwartz (who wrote The Magic of Thinking Big), says that our subconscious is like a file clerk. When we make a statement, its job is to pull all the files from our memories and experiences that support our conclusion.

It still takes work

Don’t write this off as hocus-pocus, blab-it-and-grab-it, snake oil stuff. If you’ve read any of my writings or been to any of my fundraising seminars, you know I’m all about doing the hard work. Fundraising is hard work. Rewarding, but often difficult.

We simply aren’t going to just speak our way to fully funding our program. We need to actually ask people for money.

But what I am saying is that our perceptions color reality. Fundraising is hard enough, why would we actively make it harder on ourselves by assuming the worst?

A 90-day experiment

This summer (or winter for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere), why not make a game of trying to imagine the possible positive outcome?

He just might be interested.

I’m probably reaching her at a great time.

They get approached by everyone so they are probably generous. I can’t wait to talk to them.

Just do it from now through mid-August. Thinking about positive outcomes takes practice. It might help to put a post-it note on your phone to remind you. Even just a simple smiley face.

Try it now

Go ahead, try it now. Reach out to the nearest phone as though you were going to make a call and say to yourself, “I’m probably catching them at a great time.”

Do you feel it? Most times I see people do this,

  • they smile
  • their voice becomes more energized
  • and they sit up straighter or stand taller.

You won’t know it, but you’ll start training your brain to remember the times when your call was great timing, when that important person was really interested, when people were genuinely excited to give to your cause.

As you keep asking your file clerk to pull those files, you’ll find they are easier and easier to find.

Start now! Instead of saying, “Nobody gives in the summer” say “Some people make gifts in the summer. And I’m really good at finding those people!”

Here’s to a productive three months of fundraising!

Body Language

I recently attended a training by Amy Glass for a team of Graham-Pelton consultants. During her talk, she referenced the work of Dr. Amy Cuddy, particularly how your body language shapes your experience.

If you want to put your 90-day experience on a fast track, check out her Ted talk on “power posing.” It turns out, even our posture can change our body chemistry and the way people experience us!

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