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Debunking 4 of the most common nonprofit fundraising myths

June 06, 2021
Three nonprofit professionals gather in front of a desk with a laptop to conduct further research on nonprofit fundraising myths.

Myths can be inspiring stories of gods and goddesses, or they can be widely held but false beliefs or ideas. They’re compelling because they’ve been passed along as fact by so many people for so long. Some have even made their way into the world of nonprofit fundraising and run the risk of discouraging even seasoned fundraisers from communicating with donors as they need to keep up with their goals.

Perhaps you’ve heard some of these myths—let’s debunk them.

Myth #1: Donors will remember your nonprofit on their own.

Although your organization is a high priority for dedicated supporters, they have their own responsibilities to contend with—work, family, friends, etc. Even the most engaged, in-the-know supporter will appreciate an occasional reminder of your nonprofit’s purpose, top priorities, and case for support.

Here are a few ways you can remind your supporters to engage with your nonprofit:

  • Email. Set up automated, personalized emails and newsletters that supporters receive every month or two. Use these emails to inform them of a specific goal your nonprofit is working towards and how it ties into your nonprofit’s purpose.
  • Phone call. Call your supporters every couple of months to remind them of how their support can help your organization. Be prepared to leave a voicemail, as it may be inconvenient for your supporters to pick up the phone, depending on when you call.
  • Direct mail. Sending your supporters handwritten letters allows you to remind them of your nonprofit’s purpose and show your gratitude and consideration. In some situations, having the parties your nonprofit helps write these letters will provide an extra personal touch.
  • Text. Texts are an unobtrusive way to communicate with your supporters. Make sure that each text is no longer than 160 characters to ensure the entire message is displayed.

Remember that your supporters are busy and that you want to take up as little of their time as possible. Keep your communication brief and to the point, ensuring that you remind them of your nonprofit’s purpose and ways they can get involved.

Myth #2: Dedicated supporters will donate even if it's inconvenient.

Although donors may feel very connected to your nonprofit’s purpose and want to support you with a gift, having a difficult donation process may still discourage them from giving. By making your donation page easy to find and use, more donors will make gifts, allowing your nonprofit to further serve its purpose.

Here are a few ways you can make it easy for your supporters to give:

  • Feature your Donate Now button prominently on your homepage.
  • Link directly to your online giving page in your email blasts.
  • Include a remit envelope in your direct mail appeals.
  • Use mobile tablets at events so donors can make additional cashless donations.
  • Make sure your donation page is mobile-friendly.

Having a convenient donation process ensures that your donors are happy to make gifts to your nonprofit. Take the time to make things easy for them—it will result in more donations and longer-lasting donor relationships.

Myth #3: It’s impolite to ask the same donor for multiple donations.

This myth does contain a grain of truth. Asking a donor for money every time you contact them can make them feel as though your organization only values them for their money rather than as an individual. The key is to mix donation requests with other communication topics. Here are a few topics you can use to balance out donation requests as you write emails and create social media content:

  • Project updates
  • Thank-you messages
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Event announcements
  • Organizational news

Donors want to be updated on the projects or programs they’ve contributed to, and they want to know how the work you’re accomplishing together is going. Be confident when you request multiple donations from your supporters—simply mix in requests with other communications.

Myth #4: Nonprofits can’t afford to invest in technology.

It’s true that many technology tools aren’t free. But even if your nonprofit is just starting out, there are solutions available that will dramatically increase your organization’s effectiveness. Look for tools specifically designed for small and mid-sized nonprofits that will simplify many manual tasks, freeing you and your team up to focus on more valuable work. Good fundraising software levels the playing field for small nonprofits so they can enjoy the same benefits as larger nonprofits.

Research common misconceptions

While these myths may be compelling, understanding the truth rather than accepting misconceptions will bring about better results for your organization. Make sure you do adequate research into best practices for your nonprofit to ensure that you’re working effectively to serve your purpose.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing