No matter how many times people ask for money, they’re likely to experience that queasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs – the unwelcome sensation that they’re somehow putting themselves at risk. This simple exercise helps participants address their fears by giving voice to those fears, and shows that others experience those same fears.

Distribute a copy of this handout (available as a PDF here) to each board member. Take 10 minutes and ask the board to thoughtfully answer the questions.

Introduce the exercise by stating that everyone who asks for donations feels some anxiety. While this discomfort will ease with practice, it’s nevertheless a central part of the experience. The goal is to identify and help alleviate the sources of this discomfort.

Instructions: This is a self-reflective exercise and does not need to be examined by the group. Take 10 minutes to examine your fundraising fears and investigate ways to overcome them.

Step 1: What makes you nervous or anxious about fundraising?
Take a moment to consider what gives you pause regarding your involvement in fundraising. Check all that apply. You may also select some that are not on this list.

    • Fear of rejection
    • Not knowing enough (“I might be asked a question I can’t answer”)
    • Not knowing the right way to do it
    • Not knowing exactly what to say
    • Not knowing if I’ll be successful
    • They won’t want to talk to me
    • They won’t take my calls
    • Don’t want to bring money into the relationships with my contacts
    • Might impose on people who are unable or unwilling to give
    • Other:

Step 2: Overcoming our fears.
From your selections above, select the three that you consider to be your largest barriers to getting involved with fundraising efforts. Assign one in each box and list what steps you might take or what resources you might need to overcome that barrier.

Barrier #1:
Steps you might take or resources needed to overcome this barrier:



Barrier #2:
Steps you might take or resources needed to overcome this barrier:



Barrier #3:
Steps you might take or resources needed to overcome this barrier:




Conduct a follow-up discussion and ask for suggestions about how to move forward through the fear and make an ask despite the natural anxiety accompanying the process.

Once you have identified the fears and barriers, what collective action can you take as a board to address them?

You can download this exercise FREE as a PDF to distribute to your board. The exercise is from our workbook, Building Donor Support: 10 minute exercises to get your board moving! It was developed in collaboration with Kivi Leroux Miller.