Maximize Your Progress: 4 Poor Fundraising Habits to Kick

The best fundraising strategies are constantly changing, adapting to meet new patterns in giving preferences and engagement opportunities. As best practices shift, ensure that you’re following them. A stagnant fundraising strategy can cause roadblocks, such as falling behind on fundraising goals, missing key support, and even causing donor attrition.

To keep up with innovative fundraising tactics and continue modernizing your nonprofit, start by eliminating the poor fundraising habits holding you back. This guide will cover four habits you should address to successfully adapt to changing industry trends. Let’s dive in!

1. Lack of clear goals and reporting.

Poor strategic planning can lead your organization to make uninformed or vague goals that make it difficult to define success. Remedy this situation by ensuring your goals follow the SMART goal framework:

  • Specific: Address what needs to be accomplished, who’s responsible for it, and what steps should be taken to achieve it.
  • Measurable: Quantify your goals in a way that makes it easier to track progress. For instance, instead of “raise money to renovate our facilities,” your goal might be “raise $15,000 to renovate our facilities.”
  • Achievable: Make sure your goal is realistic based on your current circumstances. For example, if your organization is a small nonprofit that hasn’t seen over $100,000, you shouldn’t expect to raise that much in one event.
  • Relevant: Your goal should be applicable to your nonprofit’s overall goal and help further your mission in a significant or meaningful way.
  • Timebound: Establish the timeframe you have to achieve this goal. For fundraising, this is usually the duration of your campaign or event.

In addition to keeping this framework in mind, refer to previous campaigns you’ve hosted to set informed goals that make sense based on what you’ve achieved in the past. For example, a school that hosts fundraising events as its main source of revenue may look at donations garnered from previous events to set its next event fundraising goal.

2. Over-reliance on one fundraising channel.

Sustainable fundraising is the new name of the game, meaning that your nonprofit needs to determine ways to generate revenue continuously. Avoid over-relying on one fundraising channel to establish a predictable revenue pipeline and secure your organization’s future.

For example, if you only host fundraising events, you’re missing out on many other opportunities to increase the support you receive. And, if your nonprofit ever has an unsuccessful event or your supporters start preferring other methods of supporting charities, your organization will struggle by sticking to one fundraising channel.

To address this poor habit, start by assessing your fundraising strategies, which may include:

  • Online donations
  • Recurring gifts
  • Event fundraising
  • Major gifts
  • Planned gifts
  • Grants
  • Sponsorships

Consider the revenue generated by each stream, especially in terms of the amount and how often funds are received. One-time gifts may lead to large amounts of revenue at times but will probably be less consistent than recurring gifts, for example.

As you assess the generosity your nonprofit inspires, ask yourself how you can make each fundraising channel more reliable and sustainable, ensuring your nonprofit’s future growth. For instance, if you’re inconsistently receiving major gifts, you may need to implement a dedicated major gift solicitation program. Or maybe you need to look into when you should let go of a major gift prospect to dedicate more time to donors who are more likely to give.

3. Inconsistent donor communication.

Donors are the key to your fundraising success. The importance of consistent communication to inspire giving cannot be overstated—after all, keeping in touch with donors is the cornerstone of donor stewardship.

A few ways you can stay in contact with donors include:

  • Sending prompt thank-you messages after a gift.
  • Requesting that they subscribe to your email newsletter.
  • Inviting them to participate in upcoming events.
  • Encouraging them to check out your volunteer opportunities.
  • Asking them for feedback on your fundraising efforts and their donation experience.

To maximize the impact of your donor communications, segment your supporters according to key characteristics, including:

  • Giving amount. Group your donors based on whether they are small, mid-level, or major donors.
  • Giving frequency. The messages you send to a donor who has only given once before will differ from those you send to recurring donors.
  • Preferred communication channels. Contact donors through their preferred communication channels to ensure they view your message and increase their chances of engaging with it.
  • Engagement. If donors are engaged with your nonprofit outside of contributing gifts, they’ll be receptive to other invitations and opportunities you present.
  • Interests. A donor’s interests can inform whether or not they’d like to give to particular campaigns. For instance, if your animal shelter nonprofit starts a fundraising campaign to pay for health treatments for hamsters, you may contact donors who have adopted hamsters from your organization and ask that they make a gift.

Donor segmentation, in tandem with consistent communication, will create a greater impact on your nonprofit’s donor stewardship efforts, resulting in more funding for your campaigns.

4. Ignoring new fundraising trends.

It’s easy to stick to fundraising trends when you know they’ve worked in the past. However, ignoring new trends could mean missing out on valuable additional support. While the fundraising industry is constantly changing, here are a few new trends you can follow to hone your strategy:

  • AI fundraising. AI tools can be greatly beneficial for nonprofits, especially for fundraising analytics. Machine learning models can examine your existing donor data to determine trends and make predictions that can further your fundraising strategy.
  • Donor-advised funds. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) have grown significantly in recent years, with grants reaching over $52 billion in 2022, making them a valuable revenue source for nonprofits. These charitable investment accounts allow donors to receive immediate tax deductions while supporting charities they care about by disbursing grants to them. Donors can even set up recurring grants to their favorite organizations.
  • Video marketing. Fundraising through video instead of text is becoming increasingly important due to the popularity of platforms like TikTok and features like Instagram Reels. Educational and entertaining short-form videos are engaging, making them great vehicles for amplifying messages about your nonprofit.

While trying out new fundraising strategies is daunting, staying informed about trends and having an open mind will allow you to capture more support for your nonprofit.

If you relate to these fundraising habits, take the necessary steps to adjust your nonprofit’s mindset and processes. By kicking your poor habits and embracing adaptability, you’ll have an easier time optimizing your nonprofit’s performance and increasing your fundraising revenue.