PMA Consulting, LLC

Five Fundraising Mistakes You Should Avoid

A fundraising campaign is a delicate object that should be treated with extreme care. Failure to do so could leave your campaign stagnant and ineffective. Below are five mistakes to address before your fundraising starts taking a downward turn.

1. Underestimating Leadership Gifts

Campaign planners often make assumptions, because of recent economic conditions, that leadership gifts will be smaller than in years past. Such a thought process could cost you significant dollars. Until a top gift amount has been tested and proven too high, do not automatically downsize your gift expectations.

2. Lack of Prospects

Growing a campaign will require not only existing donors (who you should be taking care of), but new prospects as well. Make sure you are using all research techniques available and think outside the box for new ways to find prospects. Julie Ingraham Walker, author of Jump-Starting the Stalled Fundraising Campaign, suggests using electronic prospect screening, and holding screening and rating sessions with supporters. Always have your prospect list at meetings to see if donors might know someone on the list.

3. Weak Leadership

Everything should start from the top. If your leadership isn’t playing a significant role in a fundraising campaign, you need to stop everything and address the issue. Leadership is typically the face of an organization. They usually have the most contacts and the most pull of anyone out there seeking donations. Not only will it hopefully generate a bump in fundraising, it should also motivate staff and volunteers to make a bigger push.

4. Not Knowing When to Ask

All too often, organizations take a short-term approach when it comes to cultivation. Campaigns get too comfortable with obtaining easy gifts from their prospect list and ignore the more complex demands.

Make sure your prospects truly understand your needs before asking, and certainly don’t rush large gifts. It may mean waiting until next year for a larger gift, instead of closing a smaller one.

One other point – With all the work and cultivation of a prospect, don’t forget to ask. Your ultimate goal is the gift, so all that time and energy is a waste if you never get to the asking.

5. An Unclear Need

Sit down with staff and outline why a gift is needed. A broad general statement like, “Because we need it” is not good enough. Get specific about how the money will be put to use. Also think about the impact a gift will have – as well as the impact of not receiving such a donation. Make your case more personal and tangible for someone to understand and you’ll likely be more successful.