What To Do When Your Fundraising Results Are Flat


If the growth of your fundraising has flattened out, it’s most likely a result of a belief that’s holding you back. 

So, if your results are flat, it’s time to take a critical look at your organization’s beliefs about fundraising.

Here’s a list of beliefs that often prevent organizations from reaching the next level:

  • “Our donors can’t give any more”
  • “We don’t work with people or animals, so we can’t raise much”
  • “Not very many people care about our issue”
  • “We can’t ask our donors again this year”
  • “Asking our donors in a different way would cause us to raise less”
  • “We need much younger donors”
  • “[Media channel] would not work for our donors”
  • “No one on that side of the city would care about what we do on this side of the city”
  • “Our work is too complex for us to have many donors”
  • “Our donors wouldn’t like that type of fundraising”
  • “That type of fundraising might be successful in [that] country, but it wouldn’t work in our country.”

Organizations trust their beliefs to be true because believing in them brought the organization the success it currently enjoys.

The problem is that many of these “beliefs” are actually “blind spots.”  (And that’s completely understandable: most people in fundraising positions at smaller nonprofits didn’t receive much training, and most people in leadership positions aren’t that enthusiastic about fundraising in the first place.)

And so we arrive at the problem: to see what’s hiding in our blind spots, we need to alter one of our fundamental beliefs about how the world works.  But our pride causes us to have a deep, natural aversion to learning that our fundamental beliefs have been wrong.

So the question becomes, “Is your organization’s hunger to do more of your mission strong enough to cause you to listen to things you’d rather not hear?”

If your organization’s hunger is strong enough, time to examine your beliefs. Your beliefs got you to where you are, but often won’t take you to the next level.

Which of your beliefs should you examine?  Which of your beliefs should you warmly thank for getting you this far… and then set aside?


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.

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