Ep 1: The Fear of Asking for Money [PODCAST]

fear of askingYou know what’s intimidating? Asking for money. Even experienced fundraising professionals feel that way. So how do you feel if you’re a board member or volunteer? Fundraising isn’t even what you do for a living!

In our inaugural episode of our new podcast, Nonprofits Are Messy, fundraiser extraordinaire Seth Rosen (who is also my Senior Associate) and I discuss concrete ways that nonprofit leaders and volunteers can ask for money without panic and fear.


  • Why people choose to give money
  • Why it’s so hard to ask for money and how to overcome that fear
  • How to prepare before making an ask
  • The most important thing to tell yourself before making the ask
  • How to craft your “pitch”

When I became the Executive Director of GLAAD I was a complete fundraising virgin and right after I started, I discovered the organization was starved for money. There is nothing like a massive financial crisis to make you immediately hone your fundraising skills and learn how to ask for money. Luckily, I got some great fundraising advice (that I share here) and haven’t had a problem asking for money ever since.

Asking for money need not be daunting. There are practical and surprisingly easy things anyone can do to prepare, and then make, a fundraising solicitation. I chose this topic for the first episode of the Nonprofits Are Messy podcast because so many people struggle with asking for money.

Episode Notes

Joan Garry
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Joan Garry

Widely known as the "Dear Abby" of nonprofit leadership, Joan works with board and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.
Joan Garry
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  • Buddy Teaster

    listened to this one tonight. i have a question about my fear/difficulty in asking. our organization has only just begun cultivating donors (long story about why that never happened). so most of the prospects are my personal contacts, often high net worth, but not necessarily a connection to the organization. so it’s not really true that I’m asking for the org because I’m really asking what seems more like a favor. any advice about how to tackle that?

    • SethMRosen

      Buddy, thank you so much for listening to the podcast and your question. I also make asks for organizations as a volunteer so I understand exactly where you are coming from. I suggest doing two things. First, if at all possible, before making an ask try and educate your contacts as much as possible about the organization. This can be done by forwarding news about the organization’s successes, and some information about why you support the organization. Some initial cultivation before an ask can help tremendously. Second, before asking for a gift take a minute to remind yourself about what first drew you to the organization, and why you continue to support its mission. I find that doing this reminds me that the ask really is not for me at all, but rather completely for the organization. You are not asking for a favor, but rather you are inviting your contacts to support and expand the great work of your nonprofit. Thank you again, and if you have any other questions please feel free to email me anytime at seth@joangarry.com.