KB’s Top 5 Fundraising Mantras: #5 — Remove the Excuses

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring the topic of  successful fundraising strategies by cataloguing my top tips, or “fundraising mantras.”  These are the little bits of advice that I believe are essential to successful fundraising, so essential that I find myself repeating them often to myself, clients, potential candidates, people in the elevator, the Starbucks barista… essentially anyone who will listen.  In classic internet style,  I’ll be offering these tips via… what else? … A countdown.

(Have no fear, BuzzFeed, I am not planning on writing about the 18 Types of Annoying Cats You Meet On Instagramor the 23 Gorgeous Homes Made Entirely from Shipping Containers” … that’s all you.)

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I debut each additional mantra. Now, let’s get started…


 #5: Remove the Excuses

Excuses are the fundraising roadblocks that are often most detrimental to fundraising success, but also the most difficult to diagnose. Excuses often exist in the candidates’ blind spot — they are, in their very nature,  stalling tactics of self -defense. However, these excuses keep us from doing the work necessary for raising money.  They are nothing more than that: Excuses.

That is why I say this phrase repeatedly while working with clients, candidates or fundraisers — “Remove the Excuses!”  

You may consider this ‘mantra’ to be nothing more than common sense. However, this is one of the TOP problems I see hampering the efforts of local, state and federal campaigns. If getting out of our own way is common sense, then why are we still falling victim to it?

Candidates/principals will often contrive excuses subconsciously  to keep from doing the necessary work of fundraising. These excuses can be sensible or nonsensical, essential or ridiculous — sometimes they are even legitimate concerns. However, in reality, there is very little that should keep a candidate from fundraising… if that candidate wants to be successful.

What excuses am I talking about? They can run the gamut, from the practical to the nonsensical. Some of my favorites include:

  • I don’t have the time to fundraise
  • I’ll focus on fundraising next quarter
  • I don’t have enough information about these people to call them
  • I have a sore throat
  • My wife/husband/sister/brother needs me at home
  • I sent them an email – I don’t need to call!
  • Why don’t we ask ____ to call them instead?
  • So…. Don’t we need more yard signs?
  • Has anyone bought the volunteers lunch?

Often the candidate/fundraising principal doesn’t even consciously recognize that they are making excuses – they think they are rationally prioritizing, or dealing with the things that must be dealt with in the order that they come up. But, much like any detrimental behavior, acknowledging it is the first step to moving past it.

Another note: “Remove the Excuses” also applies to those in the ‘support’ role of fundraising.  Staffers, assistants, finance directors, friends, volunteers… even spouses! If you want your candidate/principal to succeed at fundraising then make it as easy as possible. Remove THEIR excuses, so they have nothing left to do but to make the calls, go to the meetings and make the ask. Bad numbers on the call list? Fix it! Too cold? Get a space heater! Are they hungry? Bring a sandwich to call time!

“Remove The Excuses” doesn’t JUST apply to those running for office – it can surely apply to many other areas of business, health & fitness (um, unused gym memberships, anyone?) or professional success. But it is one of my essential fundraising mantras because it is necessary at many points in your fundraising plan to take a step back and examine your roadblocks. If you are aware of your roadblocks – real or imagined – you can work on avoiding them and getting to your goal.  As long as you are making excuses you aren’t raising money!


Stay tuned next week for Mantra #4…. “Make The Ask!” 




  1. I am removing the excuses to let you know that I am your biggest fan! I stalk you on Facebook every day. Just too shy to speak up. Very excited for you and this new chapter. Go KB!

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