Fundraising Pains


I’m nervous. So much of running a non-profit is outside my comfort zone. While in many ways it’s similar to running any other business, it has a key financial component that takes getting used to. A couple years in, I’m still not used to it.

Million Girl Army is a big dream. It has huge potential to change the world for the next generation of girls. The weight of that is both exciting and anxiety inducing in equal measure. I’ve blogged and vlogged often about feeling ill equipped to carry a dream this size. Primarily because while I find the vision inspiring, I don’t think of myself as inspiring. I’m not a great orator and running a non-profit successfully depends greatly on how well I can share the vision and inspire others to believe in my dream.

More than that, to actually function, I need to inspire people so much they will actually invest their hard earned money in my dream. At a time when there is little trust in non-profit leaders, I find this part of my job overwhelming on a daily basis.

Being humble enough and brave enough to ask others for money is incredibly hard.

So. Incredibly. Hard.

This is in the forefront of my mind as today I’m waiting for potential donors to arrive at my office to meet with me. I can barely sit still enough to type this. My heart is pounding wildly and my hands keep slipping off the keyboard they’re so sweaty.

This couple has traveled all the way from Seattle to hear more about MGA.  

It’s a ten-hour drive one way.

Knowing that is creating extra anticipation. The weight of their time commitment and desire to be thorough has created mounting pressure. They are coming all this way to hear more about the ins and outs of MGA in order to have the information they need to make a decision about whether or not to support it financially. While I know MGA backwards and forwards, I still worry. I’m still not sleeping at night.

Will I say the right thing? Do I have the answers they are looking for? Can I inspire them on demand? What if I completely blow it? What if the success of MGA rests on my ability to have conversations like these and I learn I’m unsuccessful at it? What happens then?

The questions go around and around. Fighting back is true test of my mental capacity. How many times can I successfully talk myself off the ledge? It’s a game I play with myself.

It’s so much easier to believe the negative voice in my head that tells me I can’t do this, that I don’t have what it takes. That voice seems so real, so certain. To convince myself of the opposite takes incredible dedication to fighting back against that voice. And it’s so much harder. Exhausting in fact.

And now that they are moments away from arriving fear is closing in. My co-workers are distracted by my pacing back and forth. I can’t focus on anything they are saying to me. I’ve sat down to write because historically it has helped relieve pressure but I have no idea if anything I’m writing makes sense.

And yet I’m writing anyway. I’m having this meeting anyway. Because I’m on this journey to be brave not perfect.

I’m on a journey to face the fear that lurks behind each of these moments. In this case, a journey to do what I need to do to move Million Girl Army forward even when it feels far beyond my skill-set.

So ready or not, here goes nothing.

They’re here.

-Sara Johnson, Founder