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Breaking Fundraising Bad Habits

Fundraising is an intense and busy profession. There is never enough time in the day to make the phone calls, meet with donors, attend staff meetings, plan the next appeal and all the other things that demand our time.

Many of us work for small agencies and don’t have administrative support. So, in addition to fundraising we also must schedule our own appointments, enter data into the CRM, and handle all the details of every fundraising event.

That’s a lot.

So, here’s what happens, we form bad habits. We don’t enter our notes from our donor visits until days, weeks or even months later which means we have forgotten the details of the visits. Our event planning is on the edge of a crisis because we didn’t do ______ (fill in the blank) on time. Reports are late and important information is delayed.

Summary of Bad Habits

  • Fundraising by cell phone

  • Not entering information into the donor database

  • Not having a donor database

  • Not planning and implementing proper donor stewardship

  • Having too many events

  • Not enough follow up

Fundraising by cell phone and not entering into your database are twin bad habits due to time constraints. We all get busy and quickly text a donor or do follow up on our phones but don’t take the time to enter the exchange in the CRM. Then, when that fundraiser leaves the organization, there isn’t a history documented with that donor.

Another bad habit is not spending enough time on proper donor stewardship. Having an organized approach to donor stewardship is key to donor retention. Click HERE for ways to improve your donor retention.

Next up is having too many fundraising events without a more diversified funding plan. With the pandemic, nonprofits that focused too heavily on events had to scramble to adjust their fundraising efforts.

Being too focused on the initial cultivation without proper follow up is another misstep. Making promises to donors and not following through can greatly alienate key funders.

With all of that, the very worst bad habit to have is Not Asking. Yes, not asking can become a bad habit. We let everything else take priority and even more than that, we’re afraid to ask. What if they say no? What if the donor gets annoyed and says something to my boss?

Let me assure you that donors want to be wanted. They want to be asked. Their connection to your organization is through their donations. Let them make the decision whether to give multiple times or not.

What bad habits have you formed? Take the time to look at your daily and weekly schedule. Talk with your boss or a colleague about your workload, setting priorities, and your fears. Having and being an “accountability buddy” can help you break your bad habits and form good ones.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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