If there is one thing I’ve learned throughout my years as a disability activist and non-profit fundraiser, it is the power of persistence. When you are starting something new it’s not uncommon to feel anxious or afraid. You might worry about whether you’re asking for something the right way or if it’s even possible to achieve your dreams. However difficult it may be to push fear aside; this is a necessary step toward achieving your goals and fulfilling your dreams.

When my son Christopher was born, I was told by doctors, experts, and even the government that I should give up on making a better, more inclusive life for him and other kids like him. Our family fought for 18 years to have our son recognized as a legal permanent resident and an American citizen. This persistence, driven by love for my son, is what shaped me as a disability activist.

Of course, the same held true in the business world. Non-profits do amazing work for the community. They change lives. However, none of their activities are possible without the money that makes it happen. People ask how I raised a billion dollars for charity as a non-profit fundraiser. More than anything else, the answer is clear: persistence – building relationships, finding new doors to open and never settling for rejection.

Here are a few tips that helped me. I think they could help you achieve your goals, too:


Admit Your Worries

Sometimes, you might be terrified of taking the next step toward making your dreams a reality. You know you need to conquer your fears, but you can barely admit that you are facing them. Taking internal stock of your situation and acknowledging your concerns can be the first step toward letting them go. This is how you can make the decision that you will not let these fears control your life anymore. Call that potential client, make that fundraising request, and pursue that goal.


Become an Expert

If you feel like you don’t have good arguments, you may feel unprepared to speak to others or pursue your goals. There are two ways that you can become an expert: learning your subject matter and learning the art of the ask. Never stop reading, listening to others, and keeping an open mind. And let every rejection teach you that no is just the beginning of the negotiation.


About Linda Smith

Linda Smith is a fearless and tenacious non-profit fundraiser, author and motivational speaker. She is a survivor of child abuse, a philanthropist who has raised over one billion dollars for charity, and a disability advocate inspired by her son, Christopher, who was born with Down syndrome. Her incredible journey and brave heart will be detailed in her upcoming book, Unwanted.

Contact [email protected] to connect with Linda for information regarding speaking opportunities, disability resources and Las Vegas fundraising efforts.