the top 6 fundraising mistakes small nonprofits make (and how to fix them)

I’ve had the privilege of working with many small nonprofits to advance a number of different causes. Despite the wide variety of issues they were tackling, they all made the same mistakes with fundraising.

If you’re having trouble getting your fundraising off the ground, chances are you are making some of the same mistakes. So read on to find out how to transform your fundraising by simply fixing these mistakes.

1. You believe that fundraising is only about asking for money.

Would you believe that ramping up your fundraising is as simple as picking up the phone to chat with a donor for 5 minutes? Does this sound too simple? Well, it works!

You don’t need a communications team or any fancy systems to call a donor and update them on a project they helped to fund. You could say something like, “A few months ago you made a donation to this project and here’s where that project stands today…”

If you don’t reach out to your donors between asks and donors are only hearing from you when you need something, you may be unintentionally alienating them.

Your fundraising efforts should be focusing on building relationships. And this is done by staying in touch with your donors in between asks. Newsletters are great, but here’s a simple tip: A 5 minute phone chat or a short impact story emailed quarterly shows donors that you appreciate their giving and that their money is being put to good use. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be meaningful. And it has to be done


2. You think you’re too small for major gifts.

I see a lot of nonprofits say they can’t implement a major gifts program because they don’t know anyone who can give a lot of money.

I want you to think of Major Gifts as a strategy to bring in gifts that are significant to your organization. I’ve seen charities where $500 or $1,000 was a major gift.

You need to start where you are. That's exactly what I'm going to teach in my upcoming FREE 5-day challenge - Operation Major Gifts. In about 45 minutes a day for five days I'll walk you through step-by-step how to set up a major gifts program for your small nonprofit.

3. You compare your small nonprofit to large ones.

I’ve seen the leadership of many small organizations think that a big gala will work well for their charity because some other big organization is doing it.

Well, let me reassure you this is NOT the case.

Think about who your current donors are and where your organization has relationships and start there. Even better, reach out to those people and ask for their feedback on how to improve your fundraising. They will tell you how to move forward. I teach you how to do this in day five of Operation Major Gifts.

3. You think you need a system in place before you can get started.

I frequently get questions like, “How do I get started with a Major Gifts Program?” or “How do I get started with Direct Mail?”

It sounds labour intensive, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I get the impression that people think there’s a big, complicated system that needs to be transplanted from “out there” into their organization before they can begin.

The tools I teach at The Good Partnership are all about adapting what you already have to begin reaching out to your donors in intentional ways. I teach people how to build those relationships that will eventually lead to better fundraising outcomes.

Don’t have a direct mail program? Just pick up the phone. Don’t have a big event sponsor? Just host an open house. It’s about starting where you are and building on your success.

4. You think one person can solve all your fundraising problems.

Does this sound familiar? “We just need someone on our board who understands fundraising and then we won’t have to think about it anymore.”

Whether it’s a hired professional, a board member or your executive director, no one person can meet all of your fundraising challenges without support from the entire organization.

A fundraiser who is not getting support from the executive director or the board will feel isolated and discouraged and may leave in a year or so (or even less!). That’s a big waste of resources with zero results.

But how do you get your leadership on board with fundraising? I know this is a challenge in so many organizations. That’s why I designed an affordable online course called what the fundraising, and I’m so excited to be offering it again in just a few weeks. Registration opens March 24 Just click here to be added to the wait list.

6. "We don’t have time for fundraising!"

“I work too many hours,” “I have too many obligations,” “there are too many fires to put out,” “I’m just a volunteer,”….

I hear this all the time.

I get it. I was in small nonprofits for many years and I know the feelings of overwhelm that are a result of limited resources.

That’s why I created Operation Major Gifts; because it doesn’t take as much time as you think.

You just need to know what to do with your time and commit to getting it done.

Time and again I’ve seen small nonprofit leadership put off tomorrow what they could do to advance their fundraising today.

I understand. I’ve been there. But over the years I’ve evolved techniques that cut through the temptation to procrastinate. And I learned to love fundraising!

Quick fix?

I’m so excited for Operation Major Gifts because I know I can help you cut through the clutter of information and get you focused on the right actions to take to get you results.

In just 5 days (with max 45 minutes each day), we’ll get you set up to start raising major gifts. Including identifying prospects.

You don’t need anything fancy (sure, databases are great, but you can do this without one), just a bit of time and your commitment. Show up, do the work and your success will become inevitable.

Sign up now!

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The Good Partnership, 401 Richmond St West, suite 353, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8

437-886-6047 |