You want people to give to your cause. You need money to keep your organization going. You know that fundraising is one of the most important aspects of running a successful charity. Here are some common mistakes that I’ve seen nonprofits make that are definite donor turn-offs:
1. Shooting an arrow with your eyes closed.
Cold calls, standing in front of store fronts, and mass direct mail campaigns are about as successful at getting donors as hitting a target blindfolded. You may get a onetime gift if it’s around the holidays and people are feeling particularly charitable, but without an intrinsic motivation to support your particular cause, you’re probably wasting precious time and money. These methods have also been overdone in the past and with the influx of solicitors requesting dollars, you’d be lucky to get a second look much less a contribution.
For long term partners, meet like-minded people where they’re at and build a connection. You need common ground, a similar perspective and passion, and a relationship before someone is going to become an asset to your organization.
2. Unorganized and unappreciative.
I once sent a check to a particular charity. After six months when the check wasn’t cashed I called the organization only to discover that they had lost it. That was the last time I donated to them. Charities don’t have the luxury of making mistakes like other industries since donors are giving out of kindness and not out of obligation.
When a nonprofit appears to be unprofessional, unorganized, and careless, that is a sure fire way to turn away donors.
3. Being overextended.
I’m currently working with a nonprofit who for the past five years has continually existed in survival mode. With a staff of just five people they are trying to fundraise, put on seminars, create a blog, post on Facebook, help the sick and homeless, develop a website, and maintain a rundown building. It’s no wonder that they are treading water without making any real progress!
While this may seem like an issue that small or newer nonprofits make, I’ve noticed that this happens regardless of an organization’s size; once things get under control then the vision and projects tend to get bigger and bigger. My advice to the sample organization above is to give each person a specific job description and list of duties that they are solely responsible for. Once these guidelines are set in place, create a weekly calendar and break down when and how much time each task is going to take. It’s better to focus on a few things and do them well than to have too many balls in the air just to watch them drop. Be realistic in what you can accomplish or else you are just waiting for burn out.
Now how does this repel donors? Over worked employees, minimal return on donation dollars, and falling behind on donor communication does not provide the confidence or trust needed to create an alliance with your supporters. When your employees love their job and when you have measurable outcomes, donors can’t help but be attracted to your cause.