To help celebrate Halloween, here are my top five fundraising horrors to avoid …
#1 – Window Envelopes
Window envelopes have no place in fundraising. What normally comes in window envelopes? That’s right, bills! Do you want your fundraising appeal or even worse your thank you letter to arrive looking like a bill? Get them out of your office ASAP.
(see also: Ban Window Envelopes from Your Fundraising)
#2 – Thasking
Never ask for anything when you say thank you. It cheapens it. When you say thank you, speak genuinely and say what you appreciate about donors. Don’t ask them for anything else. Don’t ask them to come in your event, don’t ask them to volunteer, and certainly don’t ask them for additional donation. Don’t even do it subtly by doing things like slipping an extra envelope in with your letter (just in case they want to send it back with a donation). There’s a term for that … it’s called a THASK (credit: Lynne Wester). A thank you ask. Don’t do it.
#3 – “If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It”
Or another way it often comes up … “we’ve always done it this way.” It’s often said by a long time volunteer or founder. But you have to innovate. If you don’t the law of diminishing returns will eventually kick in and your fundraising will start heading in the wrong direction. You need a constant supply of fresh ideas and a boss/board that’s willing to support you as you implement them.
#4 – Monthly Fundraising Events
I’ve seen so organizations that can’t get ahead because they are constantly stuck in fundraising event planning. Some organizations even have events every single month! They think they need to do that to raise money. In truth, they are actually limiting the amount of money that they can raise because they don’t have the time to focus on building relationships with donors. I like to recommend that most nonprofits have no more than two big fundraising events in a year (unless they have a full time events coordinator). This gives you the space to make them unique events, have them highly sponsored (that’s where you make the money) and still have time to build donor relationships the rest of the year.
#5 – #GivingTuesday
I’ve talked about it before. I have a love hate relationship with #GivingTuesday. My primary issue with it is why would you want to solicit your donor on the same day that every single other organization that they support is soliciting them as well? You’re just bombarding them. So, what I like to do that day instead is to simply give thanks. Don’t ask for anything. Just reach out and thank them personally. You’ll really stand out from the crowd and they will remember it.
Those are my “Top 5 Fundraising Horrors.” I hope you can avoid them all this year (and every year). Happy Haloweeen!