Top 4 Fundraising Mistakes… Are you guilty of any of these?

This week on #WiserWithWisely we talk about the Top 4 Fundraising Mistakes to avoid. While every fundraiser knows that at its heart fundraising is about relationships with donors, it’s still easy to get into bad habits and commit these common fundraising mistakes when it comes to relationship-based fundraising. From our conversations with our clients and our wider informal survey of fundraisers, we rounded up some of the Top 4 Fundraising Mistakes that fundraisers should avoid. 

1. Ignoring major life events or changes

When a person is giving you money, it’s important to be sensitive to their personal lives and to go out of your way to make sure you don’t offend, or worse, hurt them. One client told us about a donor couple who had divorced only to have one of them reach out months later, angry that mail was still addressed to Mr. & Mrs. This kind of hurt can also happen if an organization doesn’t respond to a death or a new marriage. The key to great donor relationships is to be on top of any change that happens within your donor base. While external comms is top priority, it is also vital to update information in your database right away and to run the NCOA (National Change of Address) creating new constituent records to reflect the new reality of the donor. Be sure too, to create records for spouses correctly so that the addresses are linked. Major life changes can be challenging—and as a fundraiser, you can avoid one of the Top Fundraising mistakes by initiating contact with your donors and also updating your records. 

2. Orphaning donors

One of the most common fundraising mistakes we hear from clients is that too often when a fundraiser leaves an organization, their donors stay in limbo, unassigned to anyone else in the organization. That means all the work that went into that relationship is gone or severely damaged. It also means that the organization can’t benefit from a cultivated donor base. There is always going to be employee turnover, but as fundraisers, this year, make it a priority to reassign donors whenever their primary point of contact moves on to a new role.

3. Hoarding Donors

It’s incredibly tempting to hang on to all donors in your portfolio, especially when you know they have the capacity to give.  It’s great to be in touch and connect if they are interested and responsive but if not, just as we might encourage a hoarder to get rid of stacks of no-longer-useful stuff, if a donor is completely unresponsive and uninterested in building a relationship with your organization, we suggest moving on from them. Not only is your effort wasted when they clearly do not want to engage but you’re also likely eroding the relationship you do have by ignoring their signals. Focus efforts on donors and potential donors with whom you can build a fulfilling relationship.

4. Forgetting to say THANK YOU! 

You’re probably doing this one already, but it’s so important we wanted to be sure to say it again! Please reach out to every donor to thank them for their gift and to ask what motivated it. You’ll be amazed and humbled by some of the stories you’ll hear, and we bet it might become the best part of your job. 

Fundraising is all about building great relationships with your donors. It is important to avoid these common Fundraising Mistakes while establishing better communication and relationships with your donors. Wisely can help you identify your most promising donors from your database, helping you reach out to them and work on building long-lasting relationships. 

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