15 Mistakes That Have Already Been Made for You
Chasing blindly after the next big thing. The fear of being left behind can cause us to leap before we look. Protect your core revenue streams, and budget separately for research and development with dollars you can afford to lose.
Making it look too easy. If people take your fundraising programs for granted, they’ll be tempted to water them down by mistakenly cutting frequency or insisting on more stories of success and less emphasis on need and urgency. Worse still, when the resulting fundraising efforts fail — they will — it will be blamed on the channel, the donors or your department, rather than on the dilution of the strategy.
Forgetting to test. Why would anyone abandon a control for something new without testing? Maybe these people are afraid to be proven wrong, or because testing is difficult, or testing costs more, or maybe they just can’t imagine that their idea could fail. Always test.
Believing that you are the target audience. Meet the donors where they are, rather than where you wish they were. Make it easy for donors to financially support programs that they are passionate about, not programs that you (or your program people) wish donors were passionate about.
Being so afraid of being called a micromanager that you don’t manage enough. It’s irresponsible to stand by and watch your people make mistakes that you know, from experience, will damage your organization. Sure, you sometimes need to allow them to learn from their own mistakes — on the small stuff. But on important matters, you owe it to your organization, your people and yourself to teach your staff the right things to do and the right way to do them.
Hiring the wrong major-gift leader. You don’t want a major-gift leader who meddles with your successful direct-response program instead of visiting with donors. Or one who tries to restrict direct-response communication with donors based on how much they’ve given rather than based on who can actually be personally cultivated. Major-gift officers should generate major gifts.
Putting all your eggs in one basket. Just like with your retirement account, diversify your fundraising program. You need different offers/products (sustainer program, regular giving, middle-donor campaigns, major gift, capital campaign, gifts-in-kind, government funding) for different audiences and different channels (digital, mail, DRTV, face-to-face, radio, events).