10 Nonprofit Fundraising Mistakes to Avoid

Fundraising is a vital revenue source that drives most nonprofit projects and operations. This source of revenue comes from donors and earnings from selling merch and ticket events. However, some organizations don’t set a clear strategy when managing their campaigns from the get-go.

Visualizing a fundraising campaign seems easy, but carrying it out can be tricky. There are many ways that could go out of plan during a fundraiser that may affect the organization’s name. This could hurt any nonprofit organization in the long run, whether they’ve been in the game for a long time or not.

To ensure that your nonprofit doesn’t fall short on your projects, read these 10 fundraising mistakes and how to avoid them.

Nonprofit fundraising mistakes to avoid

Many things could go wrong during a fundraising campaign, which could reflect poorly on nonprofit management. A lot of your hard work and commitment could go to waste if you don’t plan and strategize your campaigns early.

Since nonprofits depend on donor handouts, letting them understand how their donations impact your beneficiaries could go a long way.

Getting people to donate to your cause is a challenging process. And even if you excel at telling the best story about your mission, you may overlook some mistakes along the way. However, it’s totally normal. Raising money for those in need takes a lot of trial and error. So go over these 10 nonprofit fundraising mistakes and how to overcome them:

1. Not investing in the proper resources

Many nonprofits don’t invest in the right resources to launch a successful fundraising campaign. These resources are mainly your staff, time, and technology. So while you might hesitate to put money away from your social cause, you might miss out on a bigger opportunity in the future.

Apart from donations, your staff is an integral part of your cause. Without their passion, your nonprofit may not function effectively. They’re the ones that put things in motion like managing your organization, marketing your campaigns, and finding new donors.

Even if your nonprofit has a lot of money, if you don’t invest in the right talent, your funds may not go where it should. Thus, take time to understand what your staff needs to work productively. Hearing what they have to say and following up with your promises can reduce burnout and employee turnover.

Investing in employee development will help organizations attain their fundraising goal. So if you want to retain and attract the right talent, offer benefits and provide an all-in-one nonprofit tool.

An all-in-one nonprofit software may solve almost all your problems. While some organizations use multiple tools, having one software helps you save cost and time. Because all your data is in one place, you don’t have to waste time in managing multiple things from various accounts.

For instance, if you can have your donor and supporter list in one place, it’s easier to send them newsletters and donor appeals with a personalized touch. Also, it’s faster to track and raise funds with an online tool. This will help you better measure donor impact without needing a data specialist.

2. Focusing only on larger donor gifts

More and more people want to give to charity, as 56% of Americans donated to good causes in 2021. However, some nonprofits make the mistake of focusing only on people who donate a large sum of money while neglecting those who offer a smaller amount.

When you’re in the nonprofit sector, any amount of donations is good. No matter if someone donates $1 or $10,000. It’s the thought that counts.

Even if some donors may only give a few bucks, nonprofits don’t realize that they might be testing the waters. For example, you have a new donor who only donated $10 to your organization, so you didn’t pay much attention to them. But because your focus is on the larger donor gifts, you may not reach out to them again. Thus, you lose the chance to retain that specific donor.

To retain your donors, it’s essential to build rapport with them. Gain their trust by promoting how much impact they have on your fundraising campaigns. Then, broadcast it across your website and social media channels.

Create a recurring donation program that could sustain your nonprofit throughout the year. This could make fundraising easier for you. After all, it’s much more sustainable to convert donors once than to ask multiple people to donate one time.

Since 42% of monthly donors give more than one-time donors in a year, developing a recurring gift campaign is essential.

So, first, plan your fundraising program that centers around your donors. Include your mission, target audience, and data evaluation system. Again, advertise it so people can see that you have such programs on your website and social channels. Finally, use a recurring donation tool that will automate your tasks.

People volunteering and donating money and items

3. Having a complex donation page

Your website speaks volumes. It says a lot about your nonprofit organization. However, not organizing it well can confuse donors.

If a lot is going on on your website, donors wouldn’t know what to do when they arrive on your site. Likewise, they may not know where to find certain information they’re looking for, let alone your donation button.

Thus, don’t make the mistake of creating a complex donation page. Instead, keep it simple and make sure it’s mobile-friendly since people find it easier these days to donate online.

Ensure that your prospect donors have the best experience on your website, so make it inviting. Since branding can make or break your fundraising campaigns, design a donation page that looks cohesive with the rest of your site. Make everything go well with your brand theme, color, font, style, etc. Doing this will make your nonprofit website look professional and trustworthy.

Keep your donation page visible so that donors can see it right away. Use powerful words and images that tell the best story of your cause. Then, offer various payment options to cater to people using different payment systems.

4. Not communicating fundraising progress

Some nonprofits are quick to ask for financial support but make the mistake of not communicating their fundraising progress to donors.

Donors want to know what’s happening with the organization they’re trying to support. They want to see the impact of their donations. While you may not have the time to send weekly updates, sending out progress reports can inspire them to keep giving.

To avoid fundraising mistakes, collect data from your fundraising activities. For example, You gathered x amount of funds for typhoon relief efforts. Then break down what you bought with those funds for x amount of typhoon survivors. And record the heartfelt stories of their gratitude for your donor’s aid. When your donors see this report on your website, they will definitely keep funding your programs.

So, make it a point to send your donors a weekly newsletter. And highlight your progress on your website because you want your supporters to feel included during your campaigns.

5. Solely relying on one source of income

Some nonprofit organizations often rely on a single source of income annually, like fundraising events. Yet this may not seem like a huge problem if you’re managing a small-scale nonprofit. But in the worst-case scenario, if this source of revenue fails, the entire fundraising project could be at risk.

So plan your charity program at the beginning of the year. Come up with various funding models such as matching gifts, grants, peer-to-peer fundraising, and crowdfunding campaigns.

Crowdfunding campaigns are a great way to raise money for immediate or short-term projects. It’s a form of fundraising that encourages individuals to support a nonprofit even if they’re part of the development team. So no matter how big your organization is, you can use crowdfunding to help you with urgent needs.

Many people support crowdfunding campaigns even though it’s not for a charitable cause. For example, some individuals try to raise money for their education, while others do it to support an organization. Since there’s a huge drive for gift giving these days, so maximize it through crowdfunding.

It’s easy to share crowdfunding campaigns through emails, websites, social media platforms, and even fundraising letters. All you need to do is to write a captivating story about your nonprofit. Include quality images and videos to engage your viewers. Then share it on all your communication channels.

6. Lack of event promotion

Never underestimate how many opportunities you can get from promoting your nonprofit event. However, many organizations still make the mistake of not utilizing free and low-cost tools to promote their fundraising events. Instead, they simply post it on their website and expect people to know what’s happening in the coming months. While this may seem enough, it might not get many viewers.

When organizing a fundraising event, it’s important to always share your fundraising plans ahead of time. Since you want people to know your upcoming affairs, post a countdown on your website, social media account, and email newsletters. Having a countdown will get people excited about it.

On the day of your event, it’s a mistake to go ill-prepared. So better come up with solutions beforehand. For instance, think of donation platforms to cater to people using different types of payment methods. Some people might be coming to your event with cash, cheque, or an online donation system.

Think about your virtual fundraising event attendees if you plan on having it online. Give them the chance to donate through your donation page or text-to-give. Get every attendee’s attention by having games, raffles, and challenges. This will ensure that everyone will remember your event and speak about it with their peers.

7. Highlighting problems over solutions

Some nonprofits highlight problems over solutions. You will often see ads saying, “People are being displaced out of their homes because of rising tides. Help them out today!” While showing people the problems communities face seems logical, sometimes it doesn’t rub off well on readers. Therefore, communicate your solutions first.

For example, “Your $10 can buy a bag of essentials for those who got displaced due to rising tides.” Knowing how to ask for donations is the stepping stone to raising more money for your nonprofit. So showcase what you’ll do with your donors’ money.

Be brief yet specific as much as possible. The key to soliciting donations should answer the following questions below:

  • Where will the donations go?
  • What will you buy/do with the donor’s money?
  • How much difference will it make to the people you’re supporting?

Here’s another example: “Kindly donate $10 to help prevent suicide in South Africa.” “Partner with us by sending $10 to help a healthcare worker provide hope to people struggling with mental health in Lesotho.”

Both appeals target the same amount of money, but the last example has more information. Additionally, donors will know exactly how their money will make a difference.

8. Neglecting donor relationships

Fundraising is all about building relationships. But some nonprofits neglect to nurture donor relationships after making one successful contribution. This isn’t how you should go about raising money.

Keep the connection active from the moment you interact with your prospect donors. Never let the relationship go until they decide to cancel their monthly donation. When this happens, always respond with positivity and gratitude no matter how long they’ve been supporting your cause. Then, ask for feedback on why they want to cancel to improve your donor management plan.

To create a tight bond with your donors, schedule a monthly phonathon to thank them for their support. And collect information and stories from your programs so you can update your website and social media channels regularly.

If you have information on the date a donor made their first donation, greet them with an anniversary gift-giving email. They will surely appreciate that you remembered the first time they donated to your nonprofit.

9. Skipping on donor background

When meeting with donors, skipping a background check may not give you enough information on how to go about the meeting. For instance, some donors are driven to donate to animal welfare, while others want to aid domestic violence. If you don’t research what motivates this donor to support an organization, you may be barking at the wrong tree. 

Knowing their background gives you details on how much to ask from donors. So find out if you know someone in common with this donor. Perhaps they were referred by someone you know. Thus, your research begins there. Or they were a former donor so check your donor database about their previous donation.

A donor background check will help you personalize your donation appeals.

10. Cutting corners in fundraising efforts

It’s natural for nonprofits to spend their money carefully. But some organizations cut corners in their fundraising efforts. It’s understandable because they want to help as many people as possible. However, it can postpone their programs.

Many nonprofits hesitate to spend their donor’s money on developing a new website or spending on nonprofit software. But they don’t see that it could improve the fundraising process. So spend your money how you think is best for your nonprofit organization.

Create a work environment where you can provide benefits to your staff, such as a daycare program or a workshop to develop their skills. Investing in your team will improve their well-being and encourage them to work better. Besides, it’s an investment that will pay itself off in the long run.

Set a clear fundraising strategy from the get-go

Fundraising has its challenges. And what works for one nonprofit may not work for another. So learn from the mistakes of other organizations to enhance your fundraising strategies.

While there may be a new fundraising fad right around the corner, it’s important to understand what does well for your organization. Remember that making mistakes is normal. So use it as a tool for growth and improvement.

Key takeaway: Do your very best to stay consistent with your efforts. Thank your donors for the ongoing support. Invest in the right resources that will streamline the fundraising process. Use multiple channels to promote your programs. And finally, use the right words when soliciting donations.

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