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A group’s best efforts can end in failure for some very common and predictable reasons. Some of the most common mistakes in fundraising campaigns include:

Insufficient planning:
– Be sure to thoroughly identify and then delegate every single task. Everyone should know exactly what they’re expected to do. Set realistic goals and deadlines and put it all in writing for everyone involved to see. If it’s too hard to pinpoint a task or goal at this time, do the best you can to define it anyway. You can always change it if needed. Just don’t leave any tasks or goals open. (For help with planning, use our fundraising checklists.)


fundraising mistakes


Not knowing your supporters:
– If you expect too much or too little, you might underestimate donations and not maximize contributions.

Using the same fundraiser year after year:
– Be sure to keep supporters interested by offering a variety of useful and good quality products with every campaign. (More fundraising ideas.)

Choosing the wrong fundraising method:
– This is related to the previous mistake, but goes a step further. Product or catalog sales may not be your best bet this year. It might be that your donors would rather just write your organization a check; your group could earn more through a simple mailing or telephone donation campaign. Maybe an ongoing or online fundraising campaign can supplement or even replace your seasonal fundraising campaign.

Not taking advantage of fundraising resources:
– Few groups are lucky enough to have access to a fundraising professional, but with free online resources like FundraisingIP.com and books that provide lots of information. If your group has kept records of past fundraising campaigns, use this information to decide on future fundraisers. Good record keeping about what kind of fundraisers worked or didn’t work well for your group and why are a valuable resource for future volunteers.

Not enough help:
– Maybe you need to recruit more volunteers, or lower your volunteer turnover. To run a successful fundraiser, you need as much help as you can get. (Read more about volunteers.)

Poor merchandise:
– Most fundraiser products cost more to consumers than they would if purchased in a store. Buyers are willing to pay a little extra to support a local group, but that doesn’t mean they will continue to buy products of poor quality. Before choosing a supplier, ask for product samples.

Poor timing:
– Product sales have to be timed. That could mean selling when people are shopping for specific items, but it could also mean not selling when everyone else is. Donors only have so much to give.

Poor publicity:
– If people don’t know you’re looking for support, they won’t know to offer it. Visibility, ease of donation, and good publicity are elemental to successful fundraising. (Read more about marketing your fundraiser.)

Fundraising success doesn’t always come easy and it does involve some effort. Make sure that effort is well-placed in education and planning, and your fundraiser will be a smashing success!

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