Fundraising Foolishness

April 4, 2018



Written By: DBD Team

In the spirit of the recent April Fool’s Day, the DBD team compiled a list of foolish fundraising myths. Let’s debunk them together.

  1. Many hands make light work. Maybe true if you’re building a trans-continental railroad, the fact is that nearly 80% of dollars raised comes from less than 20% of individuals. (Actually, we’re seeing closer to 90% dollars provided by 10% of people.) Focusing on building relationships and trust with your top donors will create the biggest impact.
  2. Suspend your annual campaign during a capital campaign. Donors won’t give to both.
    The truth is it’s a great time to talk to your major donors about a comprehensive, multi-year gift. Once they’ve committed, your next few years are spent cultivating – not soliciting – them. And often you can move them to a larger gift at the end of their commitment. (See how it can work.)
  3. If we can get 2000 people to give $1000 we will reach out goal of $2,000,0000!
    See #1.
  4. Build your case based on your organization’s needs.
    Nope. It is not compelling to say you need more office space. But donors will surely get behind your cause knowing this campaign (and additional office space for more staff and collaborations) will help to reduce the school’s skyrocketing dropout rate.
  5. I don’t have time to fund raise.
    As a non-profit, you really don’t have time NOT to fund raise. It’s all about prioritizing your time and realizing that building relationships is critical to helping you carry out your mission.
  6. Everyone that gives wants their name on something.
    Not true. Each donor decides how they want to be recognized. While some thrive on the recognition, some prefer to remain anonymous. Never assume you know what they want until you ask them.
  7. The “ask” needs to be perfect.
    It’s hard to know what perfect means, but we do know that authentic, personal and heartfelt will do the trick nearly every time.
  8. Great volunteers will leave if we ask a lot of them.
    It’s likely the opposite is true. Your volunteers’ time is valuable and they want to know they are making a difference in your organization. Maximize your volunteer’s engagement and satisfaction by making it clear what you need from them. There’s nothing worse than showing up and having nothing to do.
  9. People give money based on how much they have (their capacity).
    If the wealthiest person in town knows nothing (or doesn’t care) about your organization, it doesn’t matter. A donor gives based on how much they care (their interest).  (Read more.)
  10. A prospective donor’s “no” means no.
    Not always. Often it means “not now” or “not yet.” They may just need more education and cultivation to increase how much they care. (See #9) And yes, we have a blog for that, too.
  11. Send a letter to Bill Gates. Or Warren Buffett. Or Oprah. Because they’re rich, they’ll definitely want to give to your campaign.
    Again. #9.
  12. It (capital campaign/project) always happens as planned!
    Wouldn’t that be nice? It never does. Life doesn’t happen as planned, and neither does a capital campaign. Be flexible. Plan for the worst, work for the best, and always be prepared that something is going to change.
  13. We have firm quotes for construction. We don’t need a contingency.
    Always have a contingency. Always. (See #12.)
  14. I’ve got a great contractor, he says he can begin immediately and beat the time schedule.
    We’ve worked with many a great contractor and appreciate their expertise, but rarely (if ever) does anyone…even the greatest…beat the time schedule.

Have you been fooled by any fundraising myths? Comment below and share so we can all be a little smarter!

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4 responses to “Fundraising Foolishness”

  1. John C Alexander says:

    Love the list…thanks!!

  2. B.J. Wilken says:

    How true this is as we are currently in a campaign and are experiencing much of the expertise that you provide in this blog. I once heard that….”asking someone with high net worth to give you a big gift just because they have a lot of money is like asking someone to marry you just because they’re single”……..both prerequisites, but both require time, energy, and cultivation. Thanks for sharing!