6 bad excuses for not raising funds right now

These are the common reasons I’ve heard fundraisers give for not asking their donors for help during the COVID-19 crisis:

  1. Fundraising now is insensitive. If you ask people to give, your message will likely reach people who have lost their jobs, taken serious hits to their investments, even lost loved ones to the virus. Of course, this is always a possibility. It doesn’t make your message insensitive. There’s nothing you can do that forces a donor to give, and they know that. All we can ever do is put the need out there and ask them to help if they can. Same as always.
  2. Someone might complain (or someone did complain). Someone will complain. The only type of fundraising that gets no complaints is the kind that nobody notices. Your job is not to avoid complaints; it’s to raise funds. And when you handle a complaint with grace, kindness, and the truth … it sometimes turns into a great relationship.
  3. Fundraising now is exploitative. Exploitative is telling people to buy an unproven medication you have a financial stake in. Telling people the truth about a real need and giving them the opportunity to make a difference is not.
  4. It might get worse later. Yes, it might. But that’s no reason to wait. All we know right now is how things are right now. A donor who gives now is a donor who is more likely to give later. Their compassionate is not a zero-sum thing.
  5. They might give now instead of at year end. See above. It’s possible some donors might make their planned year-end donation now. If they do, great! You have the revenue now, when you really need it! And a lot of those same people will give both times.
  6. We need to cut costs. If income is down, you quite likely need to cut costs. But the worst possible thing to cut is fundraising. That only means you’ll have to make deeper and more painful cuts later. Remember, every dollar you spend on fundraising results in several net dollars coming back to you.

Big picture, many nonprofits face serious financial pain, now and in the coming months. But going silent on donors has only one guaranteed outcome: That will make it worse.

Believe in your donors. They cared about you before this crisis. They’ll care afterward. And they care in the midst of it. Some may be less able to give, but don’t take it on yourself to decide for them that they can’t or won’t.

Give them the respect of letting them decide for themselves when and how they’ll be part of saving the world!

Have you heard about The Fundraisingology Lab? It’s the best membership program for smart fundraisers who care about donors and pay attention to the facts. You’ll find the best training, best resources, and best community anywhere. Check out The Fundraisingology Lab here!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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