Six Fundraising Fallacies to Forgo

You work in the nonprofit sector, so you’re well-versed in all things fundraising and development, right? But there’s always more to learn. What worked last year may not work as well this year. We always have our eyes on what’s trending, not only in our market, but across the country and the greater fundraising industry too. 

Here are some tired old fundraising fallacies and misconceptions you should retire ASAP!

Fallacy #1: “Nonprofits raise all their money through foundations, corporations and grants.”

False. It’s a common assumption (from folks who aren’t in #fundraising, that is) that money from foundations and grants make up the bulk of a nonprofit’s budget, but it’s simply not true. Individual donors account for nearly three-quarters of all philanthropic donations. So focus your energies on developing and maintaining relationships with donors, instead of spending all your time and energy trying to procure grants. Donor stewardship should take front and center this year. Mark our words.

Fallacy #2: “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

Ugh! This phrase, are we right?! If there are words in the English language more at odds with innovation, we’ve yet to hear them. So don’t take this approach with your fundraising. Think of gimmicks like the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, raising money for ALS. Did the young men credited with starting and spreading the movement (Chris Kennedy, Pat Quinn and Pete Frates) ever utter those words? Doubtful. Maybe not all of us can devise a viral challenge, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for our cause. But if you take a creative, innovative approach to your fundraising, you just might be surprised and thrilled with how your donors respond.   

Fallacy #3: “People hate being asked for money.”

DO they, though? Sure, sometimes. But don’t assume this to be a universal truth. In fact, the way you ask can have a much greater influence than the ask itself. Put some thought into your words. Think of how to best demonstrate the impact that donation will have. And above all, make it EASY for folks to donate. Thanks to technology, it’s EASIER than ever to accomplish this! How?

Let’s start with your website. Is it mobile responsive? Fact: It NEEDS to be. So if you don’t already have a call-to-action button, set one up NOW! Use bright colors (green and orange reportedly work the best) and exciting language (think beyond the word “donate”). Give your social media pages the same treatment, with eye-catching call-to-action buttons.

Next, digital wallets. Does your nonprofit accept donations from Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, etc.? Online giving is growing as quickly as lightning. In fact, according to our friends at Donorbox, it has increased 42% over the past three years. 42%! So DO embrace online and mobile giving.

A couple of other examples:

*Text-to-donate: Set it up with a keyword, a shortcode number and a link to your secure donation page. That’s it!

*Text-to-Give: It goes through your donors’ cell phone carrier, and sends them to a separate donation page. Still a viable option.

You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, right? Similarly, you may never know who’s willing to donate if you don’t ask. And what’s the worst that can happen? You hear the word “no.” And it may be a little awkward. Don’t let that stop you, or even discourage you. Simply move on, to other potential donors. Unless, of course, you already have enough donors. Bahahahahaha! 

Fallacy #4: “We have enough donors.”

You can always use more, can’t you? Have you ever perused the stories – and subsequent donations – on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe? Some people can only spare $5. Yet they do it. And it’s absolutely heartwarming, and often leads to more donations. Remember – giving begets giving! 

That said, donor stewardship, retention and re-engaging donors lost to attrition are better bets that will offer you a more robust ROI than constantly searching for brand new donors. And now’s the time to reach out to some of these past donors – a recent study found that “recaptured” donors – folks who didn’t give last year, but have given in previous years – are up 6.3%. So peruse your list of past donors to see whom it might be worth reconnecting with.

  As for major donors, most of them prefer to give at events with public recognition reinforcing their good deeds. That’s what we’ve seen, read and experienced, anyway.

Fallacy #5: Fundraising won’t take long.

Actually, the most successful fundraisers have both long-term and short-term plans. Annual planning is essential to fundraising success, so be strategic about how you time things out and whom you target. This goes for both your several-month-long campaigns, or your one-night events. And as for said events, it’s never a good idea to slap something together in a month or two. Start your planning process at least six to twelve months prior to the event. Think of fundraising as not just a job, but a lifestyle. That’s what we do! 

Fallacy #6: “I just need you for an hour at the big event.”

Sure, you could get someone to come in and read a script cold at your fundraising event. But you won’t raise as much money. And your donors’ experience won’t be stellar. We are fully invested in your org and mission. That’s because we’ve gotten to know you and your team and your org over months (or even years, with our returning partners). We get to know you and your mission. Your donors. We utilize best practices so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We use data to determine EVERYTHING. We are fanatical about this because it has a huge impact on how much people give. You can trust Marquam’s industry leaders to advise you on what’s trending and what’s not. 

Bottom line, we are your partners and teammates. Your success is our success! We are fully invested – always.

Ready to fundraise for your great cause? We have lots of fresh ideas we’d love to share. So reach out for your free consultation and let’s do this!