By: Giana Humphrey
Now that Giving Tuesday, holiday, and year-end fundraising campaigns are in the rearview mirror, take a deep breath, congratulate yourself and your team and keep the pedal to the metal. But first, take a few minutes to read this list of fundraising pitfalls to avoid in 2019:
- Failure to look back – as one hoodie-wearing NFL football coach famously said, “we’re on to Cincinnati.” In fundraising, the next campaign is not the only one that matters. Making a detailed list of what went wrong and right in 2018 will help you plan and succeed in 2019.
- Assuming everyone loves your cause – we understand how passionate you are about your mission but you must put into words what makes you unique from other similar organizations and how a donation will achieve a desired result. Help donors realize they already care because of your shared values and culture.
- Expecting a check after the first meeting – you wouldn’t expect a marriage proposal after the first date so don’t be discouraged or give up if the first response is a no. Be patient and take the time to slowly build relationships – just like in real life. It’s o.k. to ask again, people are busy and need reminding. Avoid overly aggressive fundraising tactics that can overshadow your mission or smell like “eau de desperation.” Don’t ask for open-ended donations, ask for a specific amount and tell why.
- Using insider jargon and acronyms – think and talk like a donor. Steer clear of terms that may require an explanation such as food deserts, under-resourced, P2P/DIY. Don’t assume people outside your organization know what you mean. Connect with donors in an authentic way by pointing out the lack of available healthy food options, the number of kids who go to bed hungry or not having enough money to address the problem. Avoid sounding like HGTV, by literally spelling out peer-to-peer and do-it yourself fundraising options.
- Playing it safe – being boring or too passive is a sure way to not get the attention that your cause deserves. Getting out of your comfort zone by trying new technology, reaching new audiences and creating groundbreaking campaigns can be financially rewarding. Avoid clichés and generalizations and instead invite donors to solve specific issues.
- A one-size-fits-all approach – sending cold emails using stale templates is a recipe for failure. Instead, research donors and personalize communications based on individual giving history. Focus on relationships instead of pitches. Custom emails and personal thank you notes make donors feel they truly matter to your organization’s success. Pay extra attention to first time donors who are the ones most likely to walk away. Promote monthly giving and share initiatives and results to make them feel part of your community.