Nonprofit fundraising: I know you are a giver, but are you a receiver?

In the last few days I got two unexpected gifts. One, a Stanley Cup championship T-Shirt from my friend Sonja who owns a t-shirt company, and a beautiful necklace from a colleague, Jennifer. Jennifer sent me a necklace in the MAIL with a handwritten note! The note said she loves my passion for my work and wanted me to know. Sonja brought the t-shirt by my house on her way to the championship parade so I would have it to wear for that day (and what a day it was!). I told my husband: what joy it is to receive these awesome gifts!

Today I did a meditation and it said, BE - RECEIVE - GIVE THANKS

I immediately thought of the gifts I had been giving just for, well…BEing. And I received them with grace and gratitude. This is a new skill. In the past, I would maybe have not felt worthy of unexpected gifts or the effort it took to give them. I have worked hard to be a receiver.

In nonprofit, we love to give give give give. We struggle to receive. Does this resonate with you?

And you are probably screaming at your phone or laptop right now, “OH heck no, I want more money in the door! I am happy to receive!” And I don’t doubt that. Yet sometimes we aren’t comfortable with our ability to receive. This shows up in big and small ways. Think about how well you receive on an everyday basis.

  • Last time someone gave you a compliment, what did you say? Did you accept the compliment and own it or did you downplay or brush it off because it made you uncomfortable?

  • Last time you got a gift, did you say “you shouldn’t have” or “this is too much!”

  • Do you turn down help at home or on the job because you don’t want to seem like you need help? You didn’t want to show weakness?

  • Do you downplay your accomplishments because you don’t want to appear overly confident or think you will hurt others’ feelings?

When you don’t feel worthy of receiving the small things, you are actually pushing away even bigger things that may be on their way to you.

Energetically, you are creating resistance. As a fundraiser, the energy in which you make the ask will determine the success of the ask. Actually, the energy of anything you do will determine its success. (Ever cook while you are angry? The meal is never as good.) You and the organization you serve are worthy of receiving. Just for BE-ing.

Because you want to do the best for those you serve, I know you aren’t intentionally not receiving. The idea is first you have to be open to and feel worthy of the abundance you seek to ask for it.

How can you be more open to receiving?

  1. Practice receiving small gifts without apology. Take the door someone offers you, say thank you to the compliment without immediately downgrading yourself in the process, say yes to an offer of help.

  2. Become aware of the resistance you may be putting up to receiving. Watch your inner monologue for stories that diminish your ability to receive. (I don’t want to be a bother. I am sure someone has asked already. I don’t want to ask for too much.)

  3. Accept that it starts with you. When you are open to the growth you seek, then you can allow it. This can be personally or organizationally because, guess what, our orgs are made up of people. So in order to raise more as an organization, you need to explore your individual attitudes toward receiving.

These are tools I practice every day, and I encourage you to do it too.

I am not saying don’t be a giving and caring person. The philosophy I live by is to always be serving and giving value. I want to serve others. That’s why I do what I do. The other part of the equation can be harder to access. It is easy to give because it makes us feel so good, the harder part is feeling worthy enough to receive. Feeling as good receiving as giving.

So next time you get a compliment, or a gift, or someone says, “Let me get the check,” you say: “Thank you!” and feel what it feels like to own that fully and wholly. Don’t fight it off. Just receive. Then give thanks.


It really is that simple.

If you want to learn how your organization can receive more…attention, energy, donors, funds, schedule an attraction audit with me and we can do a deep dive into your blocks and how to connect you to more of what you need for those you serve.