5 missteps nonprofits need to avoid in fundraising

December 5, 2014

5 missteps nonprofits need to avoid in fundraising

Fundraising is the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations. Without the contributions, grants and gifts they receive from donors, it would be impossible for them to function, much less serve their missions. While there's no comprehensive guide to all of the potential fundraising problems a nonprofit may encounter, some issues are common enough to deserve special consideration.

Here's a look at 5 common mistakes that nonprofits should have in mind when planning fundraising efforts:

  1. Lack of clarity: It's never the intent of a charitable group to create uncertainty among potential donors, but it's a distinct possibility, as FundraisingIP pointed out. In the modern era, where mobile devices and social media lend themselves to bite-size content, this problem can be especially difficult to counteract. Nonprofits need to ensure their fundraising materials answer the basic questions about what they do and how they function, and provide easy access to more operational information.
  2. Missing a call to action: This absolute necessity in nonprofit fundraising materials can also be a casualty of the limited space afforded by some social media channels and the small screen size of mobile devices. Nonprofits need to not only make sure they have a call to action in place, but that it's visible, relatable and engaging.
  3. A lack of organization: Many nonprofit employees have to deal with long hours and multiple responsibilities, and allowing the type of comprehensive planning needed for successful fundraising efforts to fall by the wayside. However, as GuideStar pointed out, a lack of coordination in the development department will cause significant problems in both the short and long terms. Creating explicit, written documentation about goals, duties and responsibilities is a good place to start.
  4. A lack of distinction: FundraisingIP said a dearth of distinctive information or a lack of branding can cause significant problems for nonprofits. A fundraising appeal has limited effectiveness if an organization can't get potential contributors to remember its name long enough to make a donation. An emphasis on unique elements in a fundraising appeal will pay off.
  5. Not being sufficiently direct: No matter the specific goals of a fundraising effort, any request for support must be very clear for each invitation to give.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Group, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.

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