October 28, 2019

5 Fundraising Mistakes Nonprofits Make with Staff

Five Fundraising Mistakes Nonprofits Make with Their Staff- staff meeting pictureEvery nonprofit needs staff to support its income development efforts. When you ask your staff to help, do you encounter hesitation? Avoidance? Or even overt resistance? Might what you do actually be the cause of your crew’s reluctance? Here are five mistakes nonprofits make engaging staff.

1. Failure to recognize current help.

In all likelihood, your staff already supports your fundraising. They welcome guests, invite people to events, and thank donors.

Even if these efforts are sporadic, infrequent, or ineffective, they support philanthropy. They deserve recognition.

If you want more of something, praise what you already get.

2. Use of the “F” word.

Fundraising is an “f-word.”

Why? Everyone defines fundraising differently. The usual descriptions focus on asking for money.

Fundraising offers people the opportunity to express their philanthropy. Great fundraising invites people to act on their values. Great fundraising doesn’t ask for money–except as a means to an end.

Does your staff think fundraising equates to asking for or even begging people for money?

 3. Letting efficiency get in the way of effectiveness.

We make requests to help with raising money during meetings. After all, it saves time.

Unfortunately, it rarely works.

Everyone assumes (and hopes) others will respond, so they don’t have to also.

If you make a group request, slow down to speed up. Ask everyone to share how they will help before you start your next agenda item. Later, find out how the plans worked, that is, follow-up.

 4. Requesting generic help.

We ask staff to bring friends to events. We request that they help to find donors and grow revenue, and so forth. Our requests are broad and nonspecific. Generic requests require staff to figure out what to do and how to fulfill your request.

Successful requests focus on specific, measurable results, such as, “During 2020, every manager needs to invite people so that twelve new individuals attend one of our events.”

Request specific help.

5. Blaming staff when it doesn’t work.

Building a culture of philanthropy is messy. To reach your potential, you develop people. You offer lots of fundraising opportunities. Imagine all your staff growing and learning together create a complex web of productivity, results, and occasional failures.

In my book, Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together, you’ll read about a nonprofit that lost a million-dollar gift. How? A program manager solicited and accepted a token gift from a high-net-worth donor.

The leadership looked at the experience as a million-dollar lesson.

Would you?

Help your staff to love fundraising. Avoid these mistakes.

More Resources –

Karen’s CEO Solutions Library

Get answers. Check out this collection of resources for nonprofit leaders about the sector’s common leadership challenges, including staff management.

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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