Monday, October 26, 2009

Deadly Fundraising Mistakes

Here's the latest from fundraising consultant extraordinaire Sandy Rees. Another valuable article to share with Board Members and Staff. The market for donor dollars is tough out there and you can't afford to make these mistakes! Bunnie

Deadly Fundraising Mistakes

by Sandy Rees, CFRE

Fundraising these days isn’t as easy as it once was. With the difficulties facing many organizations, now is the time to be on top of your game when it comes to raising money. The last thing you want to do is make mistakes, especially mistakes that can kill your capacity for fundraising.

Here are some mistakes that I have seen small nonprofit organizations make, either on purpose or out of ignorance, that have been devastating. Making just one of these errors can put your organization in a downward spiral faster than a jack rabbit on a hot summer’s day.

1. Lack of planning and strategy. If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there. Having a plan is critical to the success of your organization. It doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer-prize winning document, but it does need to provide you some guidance and direction for your organization. I’ve seen lack of planning result in a good organization becoming lethargic and sort of stuck on a hamster wheel of day-to-day monotony. Remember, people don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan.

2. Lack of support and participation from organization leaders. Your CEO or Executive Director MUST be involved in fundraising. When it comes time to ask a donor for money or thank a donor for a gift, your top staff person must take the lead. Likewise, your Board of Directors MUST pull their weight. It’s one of their basic responsibilities. They should make a monetary gift themselves and they should support fundraising efforts by the staff.

3. Not allocating enough resources to fundraising. One truism of fundraising is that you must spend money to raise money. It can be done on a shoestring, but it’s tough. It’s a lot easier when there’s funding available to cover postage and basic supplies. Sometimes an organization cheats itself out of success by not committing the necessary money to hire a fundraising staff person.

4. Reinventing the wheel. There’s no need for anyone to start from scratch with fundraising. There are many resources out there that you can draw from. Take advantage of trainings and books. Network with other fundraisers. Attend professional association meetings.

5. Putting all your eggs in one basket. A basic principle of business that works in the nonprofit world is this: don’t have most of your business coming from one customer. Yet, too many nonprofit organizations get most of their funding from one grant or one customer (usually government reimbursement). If for some crazy reason that one goes away, you’re dead in the water. It makes the future of your organization terribly unsure.

Want to know more? Get a free copy of my special report “10 Deadly Fundraising Mistakes and How to Avoid Them” at

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