on in Fundraising

"It won't work," said Eeyore glumly.

You remember him, right?  Eeyore, the dour donkey in Winnie the Pooh's universe. 

Eeyore – so anxious…so lovable…so worried that the plan being hatched would fall on its face.

Every board has one.


As board fundraising consultants, Cause Effective is often called on to help board members take those first, scary steps into personal outreach.  Connecting friends, neighbors, colleagues with a cause whose relevance to those individuals is a vast unknown.

Even before the money conversation, board members often have only a sketchy idea of these people's values and capabilities till they start pitching.

So Cause Effective does some fundraising training, talking about the importance of cultivation, etc. – and we get to the point that board members, tentative as they are, are starting to take on assignments.

And then the voice pops up from the back of the room.

"It won't work."

Sometimes it sounds like the voice of experience (“We’ve tried that before and it never works”) and sometimes it’s just a forecast of disaster (“That’ll never work and it’ll backfire in our faces”); but the prediction is always the same – a negative outcome is sure to occur.

Why bother?” is the clear corollary – if failure is the inevitable result, why should board members stick their necks out?

Cause Effective hears this voice on many boards.  Discouraging, discouraged, and standing in the way of progress.

The antidote?  A quick win (like inviting a prospective donor to be your guest at the organization’s end-of-year program celebration…followed by a “join me” ask).

You may never change an Eeyore’s stripes, but a quick win may embolden the rest of the board and leave the Eeyores isolated in their gloom, a single voice of caution rather than a thundering prophet of doom.

And who knows?  Over time we’ve seen Eeyores become convinced by these wins that fundraising progress is indeed possible for their board. There’s hope for everyone!

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