Throughout my career as a development professional, I have noticed that organizations are often guided by one or more of the five common “Myths of Fundraising.” They’re the set of enduring yet false beliefs spoken repeatedly by volunteers, board members and even staff. And left unchecked, they’ll stand in the way of you fulfilling your mission and furthering your purpose.
Most of the money given in America comes from companies and big foundations.
REALITY. In 2014, corporations and foundations were responsible for only 20 percent of total dollars given. In contrast, gifts from individuals represented 72 percent of all dollars given, and bequests made up the remaining 8 percent.
SOLUTION? Spend more time building relationships with individuals.
The best person to ask for a gift is a very wealthy and well-known philanthropist (Phil Knight, Bill Gates, etc.).
REALITY. The most successful asks are those made of people who are already familiar with the organization and its work, and have demonstrated through volunteering and giving that their values align with those of the organization. Our goal is to discover these natural alignments rather than talk someone into a gift that isn’t the best fit for them.
SOLUTION? The first people to ask for support are the members of your board, followed by others who are closest to your organization and its mission, including volunteers, current donors and staff. They are also the best people to help you broaden your reach to new donors.
The best ways to raise money are to hold an event and send lots of mail.
REALITY. Face-to-face asks are the best way to raise money, and are effective 80 percent of the time, on average. An event is considered successful if 60 percent in attendance make a gift. Grant writing is considered successful with return rates of 20 to 40 percent. But mail? A “good” return rate ranges from one to five percent.
SOLUTION? Get out there and see your donors face-to-face. If asking for a gift right away is too scary, ask to meet them to thank them and ask them why giving to your organization is important to them.
People give so they will get a tax deduction.
REALITY. Tax deductions are the LAST reason people cite for making a gift. Their top reasons for giving include (1) caring about the cause, (2) wanting to make a difference, or (3) seeking public recognition. The number-one reason people don’t give? They haven’t been asked!
SOLUTION? Don’t waste time or ink talking about their tax-deductible gift – they know that already. Spend more time talking about the IMPACT of the gift.
New donors are KEY.
REALITY. Just as in the corporate world, a repeat customer (donor) is more valuable and less costly than acquiring a new one. If they have given to you, at any level, they have already “voted” for you and shown they care.
SOLUTION? Spend more time THANKING your current donors! If you don’t let them know how much you value them, someone else will and their giving will shift to another organization.
These five myths (among others) can dampen your fundraising effort if you don’t challenge them with facts. Contact me to learn more about how you can connect with the right donors, understand what motivates them to give, and engage them in a way that supports a lasting relationship.