The Biggest Mistake in Fundraising


We see it again and again, and it costs organizations thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It’s the biggest mistake nonprofits and fundraisers can make.

It’s creating fundraising that you like, instead of creating fundraising that’s proven to work.

Many small- to medium-sized nonprofits don’t know that there is hard science behind good fundraising.  They don’t know that test after test after test has shown what works and what doesn’t (in most cases).  For those organizations, we encourage you to talk to an experienced fundraiser or subscribing to fundraising blogs.  There are “best practices” for fundraising and if you follow them you’ll raise more money.  And that’s exactly what we’re teaching in our free fundraising training tele-classes!

What’s more troubling are organizations that should know better.  These nonprofits let their Board members determine what can and can’t be said in fundraising, or have huge committees give input to fundraising.

Fundraising is more of a technical science than most people think it is.  Would we applaud the IT department that lets a committee of non-IT people share their opinions on their organization’s networking strategy?  No.  But we let it happen in Fundraising — and we raise less money because we do it.

Our advice is to stick to the science.  Talk to an expert about what works and what doesn’t, or become an expert yourself.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *