3 Fundraising Mistakes Nonprofits Should Avoid

3 fundraising mistakes nonprofits to avoid

3 fundraising mistakes nonprofits should avoid explores a few ways you can be more successful in fundraising efforts for your organization.

When conceived, a baby undergoes a three-stage process. The journey starts at the germinal stage, moves to the embryonic phase and finishes as a fetus before birth. Typically, giving birth takes nine months and is a solo effort. The mother’s primary obligation is to care for the child growing inside her.

Once the baby is born, the parent(s) usually supervise the little one into adulthood. Well-grounded parents help navigate a child through life’s landmines. Until the child reaches an age of independence, they guide and teach the child. After that, it’s on its own. As a grownup, the former child now has to chart a course through life’s pitfalls.

The military use another term for landmines known as IEDs, or improvised explosive devices. Terrorists and guerrilla fighters place homemade bombs on roads where soldiers pass. Despite new technologies and experts’ attempts to defuse IEDs, they still cause harm and fear. Thousands still fall victim to IEDs, even under the most vigilant conditions.

Like maturing adults, fundraisers need occasional guidance to avoid metaphorical IEDs during their careers. With some, a lack of education or experience can be causes for significant errors. Even battle-tested fundraisers can make common mistakes. Let’s explore some of these and how to circumvent them.

On August 7, 2023, donorbox published an excellent blog post listing eleven fundraising mistakes nonprofits should avoid. Donorbox is a tech firm that aids nonprofits in fundraising through their platform. I suggest readers go online and peruse the entire blog that outlines these universal errors made by non-profit organizations. Let’s narrow it down to three that caught my interest.

1. Not building relationships with your donors

Quality, not quantity, counts. Admittedly, keeping in touch with every contributor is hard. In fact, it’s downright difficult. Fundraisers typically oversee a portfolio of 75-150 donors. Renewing contact with donors thus requires development coordinators to make 5-10 “touches” every day. People usually contact donors only when they need them. Instead, view them as family and keep in touch regularly, even without a motive of soliciting. Throughout my career, I reached out to my donor group daily through phone, email, text, or face-to-face communication. It’s necessary to build genuine relationships.

Donorbox recommends a donor management plan. Here’s the approach they suggest:

“Nurture the relationship with your donors by staying in touch with them, thanking them for the contribution they made to the success of your organization. Get in touch with first-time donors immediately after their first contribution. To make this process as efficient and as smooth as possible, schedule some donor ‘thank you’ phone calls into your team’s calendar every week or organize a thank-a-thon, an office ‘donor calling’ event when you can spend the whole day calling donors to thank them. Furthermore, use social media to build authentic connections with your donors by sharing stories and inviting people to be part of them.”

2. Skipping necessary homework. Wise words by the blogger explain this concern.

“Especially when it comes to meetings in person, not doing your homework is one of the biggest fundraising mistakes you can make. This includes asking for too little, asking for too much, asking your prospect in the company of others, and asking for a donation too casually or too indirectly.”

A development coordinator approached me one fall day, looking crestfallen. I asked: “Why the dejected look?” She replied: “Mrs. Teichman declined my offer to contribute to the annual campaign.” “She and her best friends were having a great time at a restaurant,” she continued. “I seized the excellent opportunity to ask while she was in a cheerful mood.”

Here’s the problem. Mrs. Teichman was busy and not ready to disclose her gift in front of friends. I proposed a one-on-one meeting. As a result, the next time she succeeded.

3. Ignoring excellent fundraising opportunities during events

Think of an event as a string of interconnected fundraising activities linked to a single occasion. Sometimes fundraisers become overly preoccupied with their affair. Instead, consider other fundraising methods. Events are not the only means to an end.

The blog addresses this succinctly:

“… you should liven up your events … Add some fun games, raffles, a silent auction, challenges, etc. … All this will not only boost engagement but also help you raise more funds.”

We launched a customized VIP Reception for Major Donors at one gala. To attend, we added a modest sponsorship fee. Once, we also asked guests to make commemorative donations via text shown on big screens. Another time, we featured a famed author who autographed books for a limited number of supporters. These and other ideas boosted party revenue.

IEDs on the road can harm the unprepared. By applying practical fundraising methods, you can avoid traveling down a perilous path. Basketball legend Michael Jordan famously said: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Know this: we can dodge common IED mistakes. Adhering to best practices will ensure a safe and successful journey.

3 Fundraising Mistakes Nonprofits Should Avoid was first posted at NANOE

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