It’s easy for groups to get stuck in a fundraising rut, especially when a fundraiser has consistently proven successful. There is danger in running the same fundraiser over and over, or in never making changes within the organization to improve their fundraising strategies. Over time, the ‘same old same old same old’ breeds stagnation, disorganization, disinterest, and unrest – and fundraising profits begin to suffer.
It’s important to look for the warning signs that might tell you that it’s time for a change. Fundraising leaders (and members) should remain on the lookout for these red flags that might be signaling a problem with a fundraiser or organization.
Volunteer Interest Is Waning
This could be your number-one indicator that your fundraising profits will suffer, because without your volunteers and sellers, you won’t have a means of reaching buyers. Your volunteers might be losing interest in your fundraiser if
- Few participants in selling or running events
- Committees can’t be filled
- Negative attitudes abound (‘this is boring’ ‘not again’)
- Meetings and fundraising events are poorly attended
Fundraising Goals Can’t Be Met
If you can’t reach the financial fundraising goals you’ve set, take it as a red flag that a change needs to be made, and look for a reason why. Some common reasons for not meeting fundraising goals include
- Decline in sales: which can exist for a variety of reasons from lack of interest in product to lack of outreach to buyers
- Vendor participation is declining: as in craft sales and hosted events; if you can’t get sellers to come in, they probably think your event isn’t profitable
- Public participation is non-existent: consumers find your event boring or just don’t need what you are selling
- Goals are unrealistic: did you set too lofty a monetary goal?
- No one feels there is anything in it for them: either buyers or sellers – everyone needs a good reason to participate!
Consumers Are Supportive, But Still No Cash Flow
This happens more often than you might think; the public is willing to give, and may actually be giving, but still you aren’t turning a profit; this points to an organizational defect. It might be time for an internal change, rather than a change in fundraising tactics. If you are noticing any of the following, consider reassigning responsibility, or restructuring your group:
- Disorganization: there is no plan for who is doing what
- Wastefulness: unnecessary expenses, because of a lack of leadership and oversight
- Poor bookkeeping: no exact records for expenses and profits are available
The reasons that fundraisers fail are varied and highly individualized to each organization. The only way to correct a problem, or better yet, prevent one, is to recognize the signals that are pointing towards fundraising failure, and correct the problems at the heart of the matter.