Things That Happen When You Don’t Really Like Fundraising

Below the surface.

We love fundraising around here.

But we have discovered, through deep observation, that some people do not like to fundraise.

(Theatrical Gasp!)

Please know that there’s absolutely no judgment here. The nonprofit world is overflowing with people who got into nonprofit work to do something else… and found themselves doing fundraising for one reason or another.

But a person’s dislike or discomfort with fundraising almost always manifests itself in ways that cause their fundraising to raise less money.

Here are four of the top recurring behaviors of people who don’t really like to fundraise, and how those behaviors manifest in fundraising to individual donors (appeals, e-appeals, newsletters, etc.). And how the behaviors reduce the amount of money people raise.

  1. They do most fundraising tasks at the last minute. Looking at my own life, I do this when I’m trying to avoid something or am afraid I’m going to fail. I think the same thing is true of some people when they do fundraising functions; they would prefer to avoid it, and they fear failing. They avoid writing the Ask at the big event until the day before the event. They delay writing the year-end appeal until December. And when words matter, writing fundraising at the last minute rarely raises as much as it could.
  3. They do far more “education” than fundraising. Rather than doing the emotionally vulnerable work of boldly asking for money, people instead educate donors about the cause and the work. They create fundraising materials that go far deeper into the details than most individual donors would be interested in. They achieve the very real “good” of a few donors being more educated, but don’t realize that education-focused fundraising creates a barrier that keeps most casual donors away. Almost no individual donor wants to have to learn a bunch of things before they give a gift.
  5. The fundraising they create never actually communicates that help is needed. Some people don’t like to communicate that negative things are happening to their beneficiaries. So they create fundraising that makes it look like everything is going great and no one needs help today. This is a great message when an organization is Reporting back on donors’ previous giving. But when “things are going great” is consistently the primary message, the organization is raising less money than it could be.
  7. They don’t ask donors to send in money. Many people who don’t like fundraising will avoid the discomfort of asking directly for a gift. Instead, they’ll ask for things like “partnership” and “support.” Or they’ll insert wiggle-room words like, “Would you consider making a gift today.” By beating around the bush, they avoid the discomfort of asking for financial gifts… but raise less money.

If you see any of these behaviors in yourself or another person, be kind.

These behaviors are usually symptoms of a discomfort or a dislike of fundraising. Help them see how embracing vulnerability is key, and how it will deepen their connection with donors.

Once they understand more about donors, and about how donors process the fundraising they receive, you can’t help but drop some of these behaviors. They’ll start raising more money and become a happier fundraiser!