The term fundraising elicits different kinds of responses depending on who you ask. Outgoing individuals might find it easy as they rush to their next meeting or networking event. On the other hand, more introverted people will squawk at the idea, look for an excuse, and go to their favorite garden center instead. Those with connections treat fundraising as part of their daily life, discussing new ventures and investments during dinner and golfing tournaments. Others struggle to catch the attention of the right people. No matter what feelings one holds on fundraising, there is no denying its impact on a business, especially for a non-profit organization.
Fundraising is a major activity for all businesses. Without enough resources, organizations can’t achieve their mission and goals despite its potential impact on the community. Looking for donors interested in giving their time and money for a long time takes committed cultivation and care. It goes beyond merely organizing a fundraising event and ask people to donate. Fundraising mistakes also have serious consequences that can damage future activities and waste precious resources. Here are a few you should avoid and what to do instead.
Focusing on your organization too much
It’s natural to want to showcase the organization’s track record of successful projects, future projects, and famous board members. But this information isn’t effective in engaging a donor’s interest and support. Donors give to organizations where they feel that they can make a difference, that they are part of the story. One’s appeal will be more powerful if the story already included the donor in the first place, joining the narrative as an active player, maybe even the hero that can give food and shelter to an ailing community. They’ll remember the feeling of helping and will be more eager to spread the organization’s message to their network, instead of being a one-time supporter.
Treating donors as cash crops
While it might be tempting to see donors as merely a source of income, they are much more than that. Donors are an organization’s biggest fans, believing in its core values, mission, and impact. Treating them as an ATM will not guarantee their loyalty. A study by Adrian Sargeant revealed that most donors stop giving because they felt that they are not needed or were never thanked for their contribution. Fundraising is more about relationship-building rather than raising money. People will give if they trust an organization and see the results of what they contributed.
Make your donors feel welcome and important by constantly communicating with them. Send them thank-you notes, success stories from the field, and other major organizational updates. Inviting them to a special event, like during an organization’s anniversary or year-end celebration, is also a good way of letting them experience the fruits of their labor firsthand.
Ignoring data and segmentation
All donors are not created equal. You have your big-ticket donors who are the organization’s major sponsors. Then you have those that give a small amount but are reliable in their donations every month. Some donors prefer communicating by e-mail, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. Knowing all this information will help the organization in crafting personalized cultivation strategies accordingly. You can also segment them based on their giving history and patterns, so it’s easier to help them feel they are part of the organization.
Proper fundraising takes skill and practice to master. However, fundraisers can avoid committing mistakes by remembering to treat their donors as the organization’s loyal supporters instead of a bank.