Fundraising is imperative for a non-profit’s survival – but effective fundraising is critical for growth and profitability!
There are many ways to raise money, but the key is to utilize proven fundraising principles that minimizes your risk of losing money, engages your donor base, and converts them into “raving fans and supporters” for what your organization is doing. Successful fundraising is not about just getting that one gift from a donor, but converting the donor into an ongoing relationship with the organization.
Fundraising is similar to the fine art of dating. Yes, that’s right — dating!
A few years ago, there was a romantic comedy movie called Hitch starring Will Smith and Kevin James. Will Smith (Hitch) was a professional “date doctor” who coached men in the art of dating women, with a focus on long-term relationships. With no real surprise, the main problem was men didn’t know how to effectively communicate with women, therefore, failing to get a first date.
Unfortunately, this sounds much like many fundraising campaigns!
Often fundraising campaigns fail to engage people and “woo” them to not only become a first-time donor, but a faithful donor.
Here are some simple mistakes to avoid:
1. Talking too much about yourself.
No one likes to hear someone talk about themselves all the time. Your communication should be about what the donor is helping to accomplish, not about what the organization is doing. People love to hear how they are making a difference, so talk about the donor and repeatedly affirm their value and importance.
2. Presenting a bad image.
If you want to ask someone on a date, you will comb your hair, brush your teeth, and iron your clothes. In fundraising, be sure to project a good image to donors — have someone proofread your letter, design a nice letter that projects a current look (no clip art!), use quality paper stock and a good printing vendor. Also, be sure your letter appears personable, instead of a mass form letter. Personalize the letter by using the person’s first name in the greeting, instead of “Dear Friend.” These small details matter and a bad first impression can sabotage your efforts.
3. Not being yourself.
Don’t try to use catchy phrases and mirror what another organization is saying. Be authentic and genuine. Let your own unique voice come through your communication channels.
4. Failing to ask.
You have not if you ask not! It is important to clearly state what you want the donor to do — GIVE! Don’t beat around the bush or assume the donor will pick up what you want him/her to do. Be concise and clear with your ask. How many people have not gotten that first date because they never asked!
5. Asking too soon!
Even though I wanted to ask my wife to marry me on our first date, I waited because I didn’t want to scare her off. (I waited three months, then asked, and she said yes!) Don’t be too aggressive in trying to get your donor to become a faithful supporter. Otherwise, it could backfire on you. Nurture the relationship with your donor with a welcome letter series that shares your organization’s story, vision, and mission. Also, be consistent with your communication to your donors by sending at least a monthly letter and/or email keeping them aware of what is happening and how they are making a difference.
If you avoid making these simple, yet crippling mistakes, then you will “be on” the road to seeing success in your fundraising efforts and experiencing a long-term relationship with your donor base!
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