Blog Post: What is fundraising and why is it so darn hard?

by Alison Faulknor, Director of New Initiatives, National Trust for Canada

Blog Post: What is fundraising and why is it so darn hard?

Fundraising. Wouldn’t it just be easier if we didn’t have to raise funds?

Could you imagine a world where the charitable sector could simply dream up a project and carry it out without having to rely on funds to make it happen? Would the world be a better place? Hmmm. That’s a blog post for another time.

Raising money isn’t a skill we all come by naturally. And, it is that much more difficult in a small shop, where there isn’t a fundraising team, and the staff wear multiple hats. Just keeping the doors open can feel like the day’s achievement.

Add all of this to the fact that the fundraising landscape is changing rapidly and is more competitive than ever. It is difficult not to be overwhelmed.

Why does fundraising have such a bad rap? I think that we tend to equate fundraising with ‘sales’. We think of it as something that should happen ‘over there’ aside from other organizational activities.

But, I believe there is another way to look at it.

Think of it like this. Do you love what you do? Are you passionate about your organization or your project? Fundraising is really just engaging others in your cause. You are asking your supporters to join you. It really isn’t that different from asking someone to attend your event or participate in an activity.

Remember, if you have been tasked with fundraising for your organization, you are not alone. Everyone in your organization, from staff to volunteers (including your board) have a role to play. The most successful organizations are doing this well and their donors are better off for it.

There are simple steps you can take to embrace your role as fundraiser and start to build a culture of philanthropy in your organization:

Follow other fundraisers and fundraising organizations on social media to gain insights.

Watch your favourite organizations in action to pick up tips and tricks.

Start by asking yourself and your board members why your cause matters.

Make sure your mission is well articulated and your communication tools and messages reinforce your mission.

Start a board and staff giving campaign. Demonstrate that you proudly support the organizations you serve. Others will follow.

And, create a fundraising plan to keep the team focused.

It’s not going to be easy. And, it is normal to waver along the way.

At the National Trust, we just launched a new website – – a source for tips and strategies for fundraising and revenue generation. It is a place to find success stories of communities and organizations that have raised funds to save and renew their heritage places. It is our hope that you will help us build on this momentum. Join a webinar, sign-up for the discussion forum, ask us questions and share your own creative ideas. Help us make Regeneration Works a place for all of us to go for hope and inspiration.