Nov 9, 2021 • 26M

How Optimism Is Helping This Social Entrepreneur to Raise $1B for Nonprofits

Justin Wheeler Co-Founded and Leads Funraise

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Devin Thorpe
Some of the world's great changemakers join host Devin Thorpe to share leadership lessons you can use to increase your impact.
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Devin: Justin, what is your superpower?

Justin: What is my superpower? Oh, man, you know, if I was a fundraiser, I’d answer this differently than if I was the founder of a company. So, I would just say, and I’ll kind of explain this a little bit more, but I’m an incredibly optimistic person, which allows me to make big bets and take big risks without the consequence—without the fear of what the consequences might be if we don’t hit that target.

Justin Wheeler, courtesy of Funraise

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Justin Wheeler, CEO of Funraise, a complete digital fundraising platform and donor management system, has helped nonprofits raise almost $1 billion. His optimism is a powerful contributor to that success. Nonprofits are doing more good as a result.

Before launching Funraise, he spent 12 years working in nonprofits directly, including a two he founded. Over those years, he reports raising $100 million. That gave him insights into the problems nonproblems face with some of the available systems.

He saw a fragmented industry that often left nonprofits using three or four different applications or services to complete and implement a development or fundraising plan for a year.

Funraise offers a complete CRM and fundraising tools adapted to various fundraising situations, from galas to peer-to-peer crowdfunding.

One client, Dressember, fights human trafficking. Justin says the nonprofit doubled its success after adopting the Funraise platform. Justin says, on average, their clients raise double “the national average.”

Among the innovations that Funraise has implemented is the capacity for nonprofits to accept cryptocurrency. As that market grows, it becomes even critical.

Justin can see how optimism is a factor in achieving the success Funraise enjoys. It could be a tool for you, too.

How to Develop Optimism As a Superpower

Justin not only sees how optimism helps him succeed but also how he developed it and how you can, too.

Justin sees optimism as enabling risk-taking. By allowing yourself to take bigger risks, more significant success and more impact are possible. Lacking that optimism, you may not even have the vision to achieve what you are capable of doing.

In his career, Justin recognizes that his optimism allows him to accept the mistakes and failures inherent in life and careers to overcome setbacks. In this way, Justin is a role model for you—unless you’re exempt from mistakes. You can see them as an essential part of progress and see a better future coming.

There are two specific things Justin recommends for building your optimism.

First, Justin suggests that you can develop optimism by applying “zero gravity thinking.” He describes the ability that non-experts have in problem-solving. Because people who are still developing proficiency don’t know where all the boundaries are. They can’t help but think outside the box or draw outside the lines, allowing them to sometimes solve problems even the experts can’t. Understanding that principle helps to develop your optimism.

Second, he reminded me that optimism is like a muscle. The more you practice using it, the stronger it becomes. So, even if you’re already optimistic—especially if you’re already optimistic—using it will build it into a strength that will allow you to achieve more and have more impact.

You really can turn optimism into a superpower that will enable you to have greater impact.

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