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Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining: 10 Inspirational Fundraising Clichés

CloudsIt all started when I recently read the famous quote:

Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

The quote is attributed to several people. I’m not sure why it struck a chord with me, but I immediately thought—that applies to fundraisers.

It reminded me of a fundraiser named Nancy. I was speaking to her the other day. Nancy told me she hadn’t been successful at raising major gifts. I asked her why she thought that was, and she said that every day she has down on her calendar to call three donors.

But she doesn’t call them.

So … drinking poison and expecting the other person to die—it’s like neglecting making those phone calls and expecting the other person to give.

10 Inspirational Fundraising Clichés and Idioms

Idioms and clichés can apply to many aspects of our lives. I suppose that’s why they stand the test of time, repeatedly spoken and kept in our vernacular. And many of these sayings apply to what you do each and every day.

So without further ado, here’s a series of 10 clichés to help inspire your best fundraising efforts.

1. Slow and steady wins the race

Fundraising isn’t fast—especially when it comes to major gift fundraising. It’s about consistency … slow and steady.

You need consistency when calling donors, visiting with them, and following up even when you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it.

If you haven’t already tried it, the Major Gifts Challenge provides a great way to begin applying consistency in doable weekly doses to your major gifts raising efforts. Give it a shot!

2. When it rains, it pours

When it seems like everyone you ask to join a committee says no, and then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you get a flood of donations.

We’ve all been there before.

3. Laughter is the best medicine

For when your job and your life seem overwhelming.

Working at a nonprofit isn’t always a “barrel of laughs” (there’s another one), but there’s generally a “light at the end of the tunnel” (sorry—I couldn’t help it).

Sometimes you just need a little help in fundraising … and in life.

4. Light at the end of the tunnel

See number 3, above.

For this one, the day after a grant deadline or your fundraising gala comes to mind.

5. Scared to death

The fear can be palpable when you ask a donor for a gift—especially a major gift. Rarely does anyone who says this actually die (thank goodness).

6. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Working at a nonprofit can be challenging. Old computers, broken chairs, lack of funding for programs and services. Nonprofit employees are champions of making lemonade out of lemons. We do it everyday.

7. The writing’s on the wall

If you’re not allowed to attend board meetings, have input on your goals, or reach out to the organization’s largest donors, you’re in trouble.

Need I say more?

8. Time heals all wounds

For when you’ve offended a donor.

Relax ... it’s going to be okay. Time truly does alleviate the damage.

9. What goes around comes around

A colleague or donor behaves badly or says something hurtful.

What should you do? Take the high road and hold your head high—it’s all about karma.

10. Cat got your tongue

How your board members feel when asking for a major gift. 

Which Cliché Strikes a Chord with You?

Which cliché from these 10 speaks the most to you? And can you think of any others that apply to fundraising that I left off this list?

Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks to this article on for helping to supply many of the clichés featured here.

This post is reprinted from Amy Eisenstein's blog.

Amy EisensteinAmy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is one of the country’s leading fundraising consultants. She's raised millions of dollars for dozens of nonprofits through event planning, grant writing, capital campaigns, and major gift solicitations. She has a real talent for making fundraising simple and accessible for her clients and followers.

Topics: Fundraising