6 foundational errors that make fundraising ineffective

Want to know what causes most ineffective fundraising? Here are six distressingly common causes, from the Veritus Group Blog at Why Most Fundraising Is Ineffective.

You’ll notice none of them are about fundraising tactics. They’re about the big-picture strategy of fundraising.

You may also notice that most of the items below contain the phrase “acquiring, keeping, and upgrading donors.” Because that’s what we should be focusing on.

  1. Leaders and managers either don’t know or ignore the fact that acquiring, keeping, and upgrading donors is, after program delivery, the second most critical and strategic objective of a non-profit. When leaders don’t understand or pay attention to fundraising, they’re doomed to get it wrong.

  2. Fundraising-dedicated staff are hired who don’t understand and support that resource acquisition through donor relations is, after program delivery, THE most important activity in a non-profit. When you fail to think of fundraising as relationship-building, they fail at it. No matter how technically skilled they may be.

  3. Managers create job descriptions for fundraising staff that do not have acquiring, keeping, and upgrading donors as the top performance objective. If those things are not the job, what exactly is it?

  4. Managers create job descriptions for non-fundraising staff that does not include responsibility and performance measurement for supporting fundraising activities. Everyone in every department needs to own and care about fundraising.

  5. Managers who create PR, Marketing, and Communications departments who create “pretty things” but who do not support, in their product development or messaging, acquiring, keeping, or upgrading donors. So much energy goes into creating spiffy campaigns that accomplish nothing for the long-term health of a fundraising program. The cost — especially the opportunity cost — is devastating.

  6. Donors are regarded as sources of cash, instead of true partners in addressing a societal problem or need. When you see donors as handy ATMs, they’ll see through you pretty quick.


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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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About the blogger

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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