Top 5 Fundraising Mistakes to Avoid

20 Feb

We’ve all done them or seen them done. The big “oops” that makes us cringe or has us scrambling to do damage control. With online fundraising, I’m not sure if these embarrassing incidents happen more or less. First of all, we tend to communicate with donors more online than with traditional methods increasing our chances to misfire. However, with technological advancements and management being more meticulous and cautious these days, there may be more thought put into doing a project right. Anyway, here are some mistakes you should definitely avoid:

1)      Direct Mail Campaign No-no’s – Mail merges make life so much easier but one wrong click of the keys and your whole spreadsheet could be off. Make sure that your donor’s names, addresses and giving amounts are correct but also keep in mind that addressing a letter to “Dear Friend” is just as unsuccessful as using the wrong name. Also, do what you can to avoid signature stamps or scanning in a signature. That is just way too impersonal, especially when someone has taken the time to donate to your organization.

2)      Pestering Your Donors – Are you running too many campaigns at once and asking too much from your donors? Are you filling their mailbox and Inbox with countless updates? Are you asking a $10 donor to jump to being a $50 donor? Create a calendar for your organization and spread out your updates, events, campaigns and e-mails so departments aren’t overlapping.

3)      Not Delivering On What You Promised – From buying cookies to investing in a building program, if a supporter commits to handing over their dollars they want to see a return. Follow up on how your campaign is going and if you didn’t raise enough and have to bail on your goal, be honest about it. Your word is your greatest asset to gaining donor trust and their dedication to your organization.

4)      Build Relationships – Sending out a mass of mailers or asking for money in front of a grocery store never brings in very good results (unless you are the Salvation Army and have a red bell and history of 100 years behind you.) People tend to be motivated by their hearts and emotions causing formal letters and door-to-door solicitations to be unfruitful. Use photos, first names, and anything else that brings the human touch and a bridge of relationship into the mix. Invest into donors and they will invest into you.

5)      Keeping Up With the Times – Echoing the last point, the old ways of fundraising involve a lot of time and money without stellar results. Online fundraising through social media can make life so much easier for any development team. Communication, ease of donating and seeing pictures and videos of your mission tie your supporters into your cause. Since the investment is also low, you can experiment with your fundraising strategies and campaigns to reach new goals.


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