The First Quality

Winston Churchill
The first quality that is needed is audacity. —Winston Churchill.


My friend and fellow consultant Viva Kransinski  sent me this video  of filmmaker John Waters talking about the audacity of Cy Twombly.  There is, Viva wrote, an audacity to being a consultant.  She is right.  But there is also audacity in in being a fundraiser.

Other words for audacity include boldness, daring, courage, fearlessness and courageousness.  And it takes all that and more to approach prospects and get them to Star jumpshare with you their hopes, dreams, values and then to match those to the work your nonprofit does.  If you are simply asking for support but not finding out about your prospects, you may be arrogant, thinking that what you want and need is reason enough for them to support you, but you don’t have audacity.

Audacity means you stand out, get things done. Audacious people—and audacious organizations—are not afraid of the truth.  Nor are they afraid of failure.  They know that important as dreaming is, if you don’t get out there and do it, your dreams are just so much smoke.  And when you do go out, you may trip, fall, fail.  And then you pick yourself up and learn from the mistakes and missteps.

This doesn’t mean you expect to fail.  Indeed, audacity ensures that you expect success.  For a fundraiser, that means you set your goal high.  And then you do what it takes to reach it.

Above all, that means you don’t do things because that’s the way you’ve always done them.  You look around, see what works—and recognize what doesn’t.  And then you plan your steps, giving yourself room to roam when necessary.

Audacious fundraisers share certain traits.

  • They recognize opportunity—for them, their organization and their donors
  • They are not afraid of no. They understand that it may be the first step to a donor’s ultimate yes.
  • They take action and understand that if they wait for everything to be perfect, they will never move forward.
  • They dream big. Asking someone to make a gift that is easy for that person to make is not audacious.  Nor is raising just enough money to fill the gap between what it costs to run your organization as it is and the streams of revenue you can count on.  Audacity demands that you consider what could be—and then find a path to get there.
  • They are bold, looking for new and innovative ways to do things but understanding when the tried and works best.
  • And they are persistent. We can’t, we don’t, we’ve never are not attitudes audacious fundraisers cop to.  Rather than focusing on what cannot be done, audacity makes them consider only what can.

VirgilVirgil famously said that “Fortune favors the bold.”  So does fundraising success.




Janet Levine—an audacious consultant—works with her bold and fearless clients, helping fundraisers-coverthem to move from mired to inspired.  She can help you.  Learn more at  And, whether you hire Janet or not, let her book Compelling Conversations for Fundraisers, available at Amazon ( help you learn to be fluent in fundfunding.


About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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1 Response to The First Quality

  1. Viva K. says:

    Reblogged this on Girl Friday: Broad Solutions for Nonprofits and commented:
    The best part of having smart, articulate friends is that you can share a tiny seed of an observation and they will grow it into lush, blooming, fully-fleshed out ideas and concepts right before your eyes. For example, this excellent piece by my friend and colleague, Janet Levine, on the audacity required to be a good fundraiser.

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