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Confronting the Fear of Fundraising

 By Mary Walker, Petrus Blog Contributor


A group of people are sitting around a table. There are probably some snacks. A leader speaks with passion about some great need in the parish, Church, or community. The leader shares her vision of how major change can come about. She invites those around the table to be part of something BIG. They brainstorm, amplify each other’s ideas, and get really excited. 


As the meeting progresses, it becomes clear that passion and commitment won’t be enough. MONEY is the fuel that moves the idea forward. Unease sets in. Where will this money come from? 


This scenario has played out countless times. Every parish, nonprofit, and ministry share a version of this origin story. Sooner or later, and VERY reluctantly, the group realizes that they will have to go “out there,” make themselves vulnerable, and ask people to give. This is TERRIFYING!


Fundraisers are formed by necessity, and in the beginning, many of us would rather do JUST ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. Asking for money is out of our comfort zones. Why is that?


We live in a culture that admires self-reliance. We are reluctant to ask for help even when we know that others will come to our aid. 


A friend of mine is a really big, tough guy, and he works in a profession where those attributes are an advantage. His family faced some medical issues that drastically reduced their income. One of his children was going to have to give up a much loved activity, where he had great talent, because money was too tight. My friend gritted his teeth, and on behalf of his child, he asked some of us to help out. Of course we did! 


I know how hard it was for him to ask because I know how hard it would be for me to ask, to admit that my personal resources are not enough. Intellectually, I’m sure he knew that none of this was his fault and that those who love him and his children would be glad, and even feel privileged, to help out. But it was still hard. 


When we ask on behalf of our ministries, we are also admitting that the resources we have on hand NOW are not enough to move forward. Intellectually, we know that many of our benefactors care about our ministry as much as we do and would feel privileged to help. But it is still hard to ask.


In the Bible God asks his people to do many hard things. Even though he is behind their efforts, the Bible heroes still have to face their fears. If we believe God is calling us to start or grow our ministries through fundraising, it is still hard to follow through in faith.   


The good news is that training, mentorship, and practice can turn a nervous novice fundraiser into a confident professional comfortable in asking for gifts. And many of us have even learned to love the process. There is something special about sharing your vision with others and seeing the joy they experience in making it happen.


The consultants at Petrus Development know that fundraising probably doesn’t come naturally to you. Yet, they have seen time and time again the transformative power of effective fundraising. Think about any ministry or nonprofit you admire. I guarantee that sustainable and systematic fundraising was key to its impact and growth. It just takes a bit of courage and commitment to get started.



Over the last two years Petrus has worked closely with dozens of ministries who are brand new to fundraising to determine the essential first steps for organizations who are just starting development.


The result of this collaboration is Basic Online Advancement Training, or BOAT.  BOAT is a self-guided course that will help your ministry put the initial pieces in place to start fundraising. This summer, the BOAT program will be available publicly for the first time.


If you would like to be notified when BOAT is available, please join the waiting list below.


The great western movie actor John Wayne, who became Catholic shortly before his death, said, “Courage is being scared to death—and saddling up anyway.” BOAT is a great way to confront your fear of fundraising and take the first steps to transform yourself and your ministry.


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