'Teaching fundraisers the power of mindset', Rhea Wong
Updated: Nov 16
Podcaster, author and comedian Rhea Wong joins Purposely to share her fascinating story.
Rhea Wong grew up in the Bay Area of San Francisco, relocating to the East Coast of America to start her first non-profit leadership role at 26. Thrown in at the deep end, without experience, Rhea had to learn fast.
'I was like, what? My first two Google searches in the job were, ‘what does an executive director do?’ and the second was, ‘how to fundraise’. I like that I was that clueless.'
Fast forward to today, Rhea is one of the leading voices on fundraising for non-profits globally. Her teaching focuses on developing the right mindset, rather than just teaching income generation tactics.
Rhea has caught the attention of the fundraising sector for her insightful thinking around mindset, in particular her theory on 'scarcity and abundance' as a common block for any non-profit fundraiser.
'When we come from a place of confidence and expectation that there is enough money out there for us to do our work, and to feel the change that we've seen in the world, we operate on a different level'
At first Rhea struggled with fundraising, she was good at it but found it 'joyless'. She examined the mental blocks and negative outlook to try and understand her resistance to fundraising . Rhea reflected on her childhood experiences around money and charity.
She remembers vividly an experience that helped shape her, ' I gave a homeless guy a quarter in front of my father and he goes, Oh, so you're so rich. now you can just give money away.'
The moment impacting her psyche deeply, the idea that money is scarce and that we have to hold on to it and guard it. Her grandparent’s experience leaving communist China and arriving in the United States with very little money had a significant impact on her parent’s mindset. This had also shaped her own outlook to giving and charity.
'Money stood for stability and security, because that's what they needed when they came to this country, all they had was $20 in their pocket when they arrived.'
Over time and following a period of reflection and introspection Rhea developed a love for her profession, the joy of making the ask and raising vital funds for good causes started to make sense. This clarity led her on a new career path, from being a fundraiser herself to helping others be better fundraisers.
Rhea shares her move from non-profit executive to launching her own business helping others to reach their full potential as fundraisers.
Rhea works with individuals and organisations, and she has particular expertise in institutional, corporate and major donor fundraising. Importantly she knows what it’s like to be a successful fundraiser herself raising millions for good causes and she is well placed to coach and advise others.
In 2022 Rhea Wong published the book 'Get That Money! The No B******t Guide To Raising More Money For Your Non-Profit'.
The book, despite its relatively racy headline, is focused on the importance of relationship-based fundraising and the antithesis of the transactional approach so often used.
'The name of the book was really about getting people's attention. I think it's very aligned with my brand which is pretty irreverent. I'm not a very formal person and I like to make jokes, obviously. I like to not take it so seriously. But it is about how do you really build relationships such that you can get that money honey?'
Rhea has also published over 200 episodes of her Podcast Non-profit Lowdown reviewing and recommending the best ideas, resources, tools and tricks to run a non-profit, using her own lived experiences as well as her guests.
We delve into her approach to work, her confidence, her drive and how she doesn't take herself too seriously.