How To Speak with Your Friends and Family About Your Project

How To Speak with Your Friends and Family About Your Project

by June 29, 2015

Friends and Money Do Mix


“Our instincts most often drive us toward instant gratification,” notes Peter Bregman, writing for Psychology Today. He argues that, over time, human beings train themselves to fail by adopting rituals that both gratify us and undermine our success. Few things feel less gratifying than rejection, so it is no wonder that most people will avoid it at all costs. Further, on the hierarchy of rejection, being rebuffed by friends and family is far worse than being turned down by a stranger. However, funding your dream project simply will not work if you live in constant fear of rejection. An artist who successfully obtains funding for his or her work does so by developing habits that increase confidence, build relationships, and lead to necessary funding.


In 2013, Elizabeth Gerber and Julie Hui of Northwestern University published “Crowdfunding: Motivations and Deterrents for Participation.” Their research identified “fear of public failure and exposure” as fundamental deterrents to crowdfunding, and noted that, “while the rise of crowdfunding has normalized the idea of asking for small donations from one’s social network, most creators still report discomfort with asking for funds.” Unfortunately, if you want to get your project funded, you must decide what is more important: avoiding the word “no” at all costs, or asking the people most likely to take interest in what you are working on for a helping hand. Fear is bad for crowdfunding.

Avoid becoming so wrapped up in your own dream that the possibility of failing to achieve funding paralyzes you from taking action. Instead, step outside yourself and try to see the project from the viewpoint of your friends and family. Identify why they might be willing to help you (whether for love, a genuine shared interest in the project, as a favor, etc.), and draw courage from that insight. Be fearless in asking, and realize that the worst thing that could happen is that they might say “no”.

Turn the Tables

Gerber and Hui also noted that, among other reasons, one of the primary motivations for contributing to a crowdfunding campaign included being part of a community. In other words, people like to belong to groups and become part of something bigger than themselves. So, why not use that to motivate others to contribute?

In much the same way that being rejected deters crowdfunding creators from approaching their friends and family, being excluded from the campaign could make outsiders feel like they are missing out on something. Create a sense of exclusivity about your campaign, and make donors feel as though they are a part of something special. Make them proud to be on the inside of your campaign, and make those who have not yet contributed just a bit envious so they feel motivated to contribute in order to gain acceptance.

Unless your campaign is one of the lucky few to reach full funding minutes after its launch, there will probably many times when the process of crowdfunding is nerve wracking and a little scary. Yet, just as with skydiving or mountain biking, that fear can also be exhilarating and motivating. Adopting the right attitude can help manage the negative aspects of fear and channel that energy into something positive; making it easier for you to solicit potential donors. Keep these points in mind to keep your experience exciting and not terrifying:

Remember, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. A social connection who says “no” to your funding request is not saying “no” to your friendship. Maintain a realistic vision of both the worst that could happen and the best that could happen. Write these things down and revisit them when you feel your doubts returning.

Use your knowledge of the people you are approaching. While it might be more intimidating to ask a close friend or loved one for money, it should not be. You know what appeals to that person much better than a stranger you would meet on the street. Anticipate their wants and overcome their potential objections in your mind before you even ask them. This way, you will be prepared and ready to overcome any obstacles that you may experience when asking for funding.

Be persistent, but avoid being a nuisance. If Aunt Hilda says that she would love to help and asks if she can donate at a more convenient time, accommodate her. Stop by with cookies or make a friendly phone call. Do not be afraid to follow-up with friends and family at regular intervals. However, do not turn into a bill collector or hard seller. If after a few attempts it becomes clear that someone is simply too polite to say no directly, ease up in your pursuit. There is no reason to make someone want to avoid talking to you because you have been too pushy.

Do not let your desire for a yes allow you to avoid a potential no. Anyone who has worked in charity or sales can tell you that you never know who will donate or buy and who will not. Sometimes the wealthiest people are the most apprehensive with their money , and the poorest are the most giving. Do not take it upon yourself to decide whether they can or should donate to your project; ask them all.

Remember, with crowdfunding, fear is the enemy. Learn to enjoy the thrill of overcoming fear. Keep in mind that the people closest to you have demonstrably more desire to help you achieve your goals than total strangers. Learn that the answer “no” cannot hurt you, and that the answer “yes” can be one of the best feelings in the world. While you have nothing to lose by asking, you will gain nothing if you do not ask.

For a limited time, you can take a short course on crowdfunding for free and learn more about involving your immediate network here: An Introduction to Tax-deductible Crowdfunding