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Fundraising Lessons from our Muddy Boots Tour with Andy Robinson

by Kelly McCormack

Recently MANP hit the road with Andy Robinson to bring an in-depth fundraising workshop to three locations: Bangor, Bar Harbor and Waterville. Internally, we were calling this our Muddy Boots Tour and we could not have had a better fellow road tripper!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Andy, he has been a fundraiser, facilitator, trainer and community organizer for nearly 40 years. He is based in Plainfield, Vermont and specializes in needs of organizations working for human rights, social justice, artistic expression, environmental conservation, and community development. He has a light-hearted, no-nonsense approach sprinkled with humor making the topic of fundraising much less daunting than it needs to be. For example, one participant shared, “I appreciated Andy’s energy and realism – he made it very approachable and made the idea of asking for money less scary!” You can learn more about Andy and his work at:

With attendees from as far north as Caribou (hi, American Red Cross of Maine Aroostook County!) and as far south as Eliot (hello, William Fogg Library!), more than 100 organizations were represented at all three events with both board and staff members alike.

Participants explored topics such as the psychology of fundraising and why people give, and what exactly it is to fundraise (hint: it’s not always making an ask!), and then they put it all to practice with role play exercises.

There were several important takeaways from Andy, but a few that rose to the top include:

  • Fundraising is not just asking for money. It’s about relationships, passion for your organization’s mission, and sharing that passion with others to engage them for support. You don’t need to be an ‘asker’ to effectively fundraise.

My biggest takeaway was Andy’s consistent message that fundraising is doable by everyone and has many components besides the ask!” -Bangor attendee

  • Board involvement in fundraising is critical. Identify your board’s fundraising ‘spark plug’ – someone who can lead the charge and can provide leadership, guidance, and peer accountability.

My key takeway was understanding ways to coach, inspire and motivate my board in fundraising. I liked the way Andy re-cast fundraising in ways that are not scary and more opportunistic.
-Waterville attendee

  • An organization’s biggest untapped funding resource is individuals. In 2017, 5% of nonprofit philanthropic support came from corporations, where as 70% came from individuals, and half of that money came from middle- and working-class people. Tap into your board to build your list of prospects and start meeting new people!

My biggest takeaways are that individual donors are the way to go, no matter the size, and asking isn’t so bad!” -Bar Harbor attendee

Also, not that we’re keeping score, but Blue Hill Heritage Trust had the largest team of their week and we loved seeing them share their experience on social media:

Andy will be back on August 14 for Beyond Bad Training: A Toolkit for Trainers, Teachers + Facilitators – stay tuned for more info and to register!


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