Will they think you’re incompetent if you say you need help?

Good question over at Jonathon Grapsas’ blog: Need v incompetence? Will people think your organization is inept when your message to them is We really need your help?

Jonathan suggests a few ways to avoid the problem:


  • Ask when you need the money, stop and feedback in between.
  • Find the right times to show off your wares, announcing your successes.
  • Do a terrific job explaining why you’re unique and better than everyone else at least one thing.
  • Ensure the execution of the ask is clear, concise and explains why you need help, right now.
  • Get the balance right between asking (when there’s a need) and non-asking.

That’s all good advice. But let me suggest something else:

Don’t assume anyone thinks less of you because you need help.

That’s an utterly self-centered assumption, and generally the only people who even dream it up are executive directors and board members — people who have personal pride wrapped up in the professional image of the organization.

The more common truth is this: Donors love it when they think they can make a difference, when they think their gift really, really matters. The question of your ineptitude hardly ever comes up. They know conditions are tough (even in the best of times), and they know your organization is doing a lot.

So go ahead and admit you need help!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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