“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When I was in college taking education courses, I remember a professor telling a story about a teacher who worked in an urban school with a high percentage of low income students. At the beginning of the year, the teacher told the students a story that was not exactly true. The teacher told the students that their class was the smartest group of children in the grade level, so she expected the best performance and had high expectations for them. She made them work hard and the students responded with greater success when it came to their testing results. In my opinion, they did so because her story instilled a greater level of confidence in her pupils, so they performed at a higher level than the kids in other classes in the school. They believed that they were capable and they proved that they were.
I recently met with some potential clients for my business, Greater Good Fundraising, who want to raise money for their school’s sports program. With the number of students in their program, they could realistically raise enough money from local businesses and individuals that they wouldn’t have to have car washes or sell merchandise for two or three years. But then doubt crept into the conversation. They were skeptical that, because a good number of their players come from low income families, the students would not be successful because their parents would not have the resources to support their efforts. The basis of my business method is that parents are not the people the group targets for support, but local businesses in their neighborhood who can and want to support them. As coaches, they need to encourage their players and instill confidence in them, if they are going to succeed on the playing field, and if they want to raise substantial support for their teams, they need to encourage their teams and instill confidence in their fundraising effort. If they show that doubt to their players, it will erode their teams’ confidence, and their effort will fail.
If you are a Development professional or Volunteer Coordinator, you need to have confidence to succeed in your efforts to gain support for your organization. You have to believe in your abilities, and you need to believe in your organization and its mission and programs. You need to have faith that your programs can make a difference when you ask for help from others. You have to be confident when you communicate to potential donors and volunteers that their support will bring greater success to your constituents. People will respond to your confidence, but if you are doubtful, they will be hesitant in their support. Whether you are approaching individuals, businesses or foundations, you have to be confident in your mission and yourself when you are seeking support for your organization. Bring your confidence with you to your next meeting and leave your doubts at home.