Do You Make Any of These 10 Fundraising Mistakes?
With over a decade of fundraising experience, I have stumbled over many fundraising mistakes. The great thing about mistakes is that you learn from them, which makes the coming years much more successful.
To help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made over the years, I’m identifying some of them here with tips on how avoid them. This way, you can achieve the same success I have in my fundraising without having to deal with the mistakes first.
Mistake #1: Lack of Understanding Your Audience
Many fundraising teams make the mistake of not considering whom they are targeting when planning what they will sell. When you plan your fundraiser, consider the audience you will target by asking yourself these questions:
- What are the interests of your audience?
- What does your target population need, rather than want?
- How large is your population? Consider a different population if the first chosen is not large enough.
- What would your audience respond to the most in marketing?
- What is the average income level?
- What means the most to your population? Is it the cause or the products?
By understanding your audience, you can direct your products, marketing and pitching according to what makes them respond the most.
Mistake #2: Lack of Efficient Marketing
Many people stick with one marketing method and don’t consider how using multiple routes to delivering their fundraising news can be beneficial. When you use only one method, you don’t reach as many people as you could, which means your fundraiser risks the publicity and donations it could receive.
To know your audience, begin thinking about your marketing method and include as many tactics as possible.
- Face-to-face marketing
- Direct mail marketing
- Newspaper and local magazines
- Telephone calls
- Advertising flyers
- Online with email, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking possibilities
Time is a factor with marketing. Do not advertise too early or your target audience may forget about it. Don’t do it too late or your audience may have other plans. It’s best to advertise one to two weeks before to allow your population to schedule for it.
Mistake #3: Not Creating a Budget
Don’t compromise your profits by spending more on the fundraiser than you will make or close to it. Setting up a budgeting plan will allow you to consider how much you are spending and speculate how much of a profit you can make from the event.
When you start a budget, consider the following:
- The money you have available to use
- The money you want to raise
- The fundraising products or event costs
When you think about the profit, consider the time it will take you to organize the event and/or sell the products. You need to allow enough time to bring in the contributors to raise the amount you need.
Mistake #4: Not Having Enough Volunteers
Many fundraiser teams underestimate the number of volunteers they need. This can be devastating when the team can’t handle the multitude of guests at the event or reach as many potential buyers to sell products.
Always remember, the more volunteers, the better. Use volunteers for every part of the fundraiser. This includes budget planning, event organization, and marketing.
To find out the minimum number of volunteers you need, ask yourself these questions:
- How many people will it take to come up with a budget? This is usually a minimum of two people.
- How many people do you need to market effectively? This usually has to do with how many tactics you will use and the size of your audience.
- How many volunteers will it take to organize the event or sell the products? This has to do with the size of the event’s location and the how large your population is you are targeting.
Mistake #5: No Backup Plan
If you’re holding your fundraising event outdoors, not having a backup plan could be devastating. When you don’t make the profit you expected, the need for funding can put your organization in a bind. Planning for the unexpected can prevent lost donations and up your profits to where you need them to be to help the organization.
Mistake #6: Not Researching Other Fundraisers
Fundraising teams that don’t research other events in the area run the risk of targeting an exhausted audience, because they have already invested in a similar organization. Your fundraising success depends on seeking an audience that is fresh and untargeted by other fundraisers.
Mistake #7: Failing to Build Relationships
Many fundraiser teams make the mistake of doing emergency fundraising, instead of building quality relationships with their audience. When you build a relationship with your audience, you capture the emotions that make them want to buy from you.
To build this relationship with your audience, do the following:
- Hold events that do not hold a primary purpose of fundraising. Mingle with guests and take genuine interests in their lives.
- Send newsletters to past donors updating them on how their contributions help the organization thrive.
- Provide information to possible contributors with or without a nudge for a donation.
- Spend time in the community, meeting people and telling them about the organization.
Mistake #8: Allowing People to Think About It
The biggest mistake among fundraising teams is allowing people to think about making a donation or buying something. When people have a chance to think about it, they have a chance to talk themselves out of it. Getting people to act on impulse is the best way to meet your fundraising needs.
When coaching your fundraising team, teach them how to get around the classic response, “I’ll have to think about it…”
- Start with rapport building, such as, “Your yard is beautiful.”
- Progress into how you understand how busy they are and you hope you are not interrupting them.
- Tell them this won’t take a lot of time. You just want to tell them about the organization you present.
- Go from the positives of the organization into the difficulty in fulfilling some of those great things you do because of lack of funding.
- You can then ask for their assistance in continuing the efforts of the organization by saying, “With your support, we can continue to deliver the services we find so beneficial.”
- Show them the tickets or products and mention how you only have a day to offer them, so you would appreciate their support while you are with them.
While the steps to the sale may not seem like they all have to do with avoiding the “I’ll have to think about it.” situation, they all work together to build up the anticipation and then the need to invest once you present the material.
Mistake #9: Not Training a Fundraising Team
Many people believe everyone has the knack for selling. This is not true. Fundraising teams need coaching on how to sell event tickets and products. Using the suggestions in the above tip on how to avoid the “I’ll have to think about it…” excuse can help you prepare your team.
Mistake #10: Using the Same Fundraiser Every Year
While the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts have found much success in their products year after year, this doesn’t work for every fundraiser. Changing your event or products helps you gain the donations of people you hadn’t in previous years because they were not interested, but also the continued donations of past contributors because of their dedication to the cause.
Always remember though, don’t change events and products so much you don’t target your audience.
It’s Time to Fundraise Successfully
Now that you know all of the fundraising mistakes I’ve made, you can go on to planning your fundraising event to be a success.
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