Learning to Ask: Overcoming the Awkwardness of Fundraising


One of the biggest obstacles in fundraising is not that people don’t want to give—it’s that we don’t want to ask. Asking for things is hard to do, especially if you’re asking for help or money. Fundraisers are often limited by their own inability to overcome the awkwardness they feel in asking for donations.

I was once incredibly uncomfortable with asking my close friends and family for donations. My “light bulb” moment came one day in 2012 when my aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The helplessness my family felt at her diagnosis was palpable. There was nothing I could do—almost.


When I started fundraising for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, every letter, email and social media post was for my aunt. My fundraising success would not necessarily alter her diagnosis, but maybe it would help another cancer survivor someday—someone else’s aunt. That’s when I realized that fundraising is not about asking for you—it’s about asking for others, which is so much more powerful.

Fundraising can be difficult and awkward sometimes, but once you realize why you are fundraising, all of that seems to go away. So just ask. At worst, your co-worker doesn’t donate. At best, you inspire hope and you make a concrete difference in the fight against cancer. Those odds sound pretty good to me.

Remember, you’ll miss 100% of the asks that you don’t make.

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