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Fundraising Myths

What is a myth? According to Google sources, it is a traditional story used to explain some natural or social phenomenon. Some might say myths are fairy tales or even falsehoods (lies).

The world of nonprofit fundraising has its share of myths. Here are ten of my “favorites” and some myth-busting.

1. Corporations are where you focus your fundraising efforts.

This one is a fairy tale. According to Giving USA, corporations give about 4% of all philanthropic donations across the United States. Compare this to 70% or more given by individuals, and about 15% given by private foundations.

2. Things slow down during (fill in the blank) time, end of year, summer…

This one might have been true in the past, but not now. Fundraising is an ongoing 12-month cycle. Individual giving may slow down in the summer, but that is the time to plan for the fall and end of year.

3. Commission-based fundraising is acceptable.

This one is a complete falsehood and is against the Ethical Standards established by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Fundraisers are not car salespeople. We do not get a percentage of what we raise.

4. Grants are easy money.

Maybe for some people, but not generally. Are you an excellent writer? Do you have amazing relationships with the foundation program officers? Is your organization a perfect match for multiple foundations?

5. Boards don’t need to fundraise.

False: board members have a fiduciary responsibility to financially support the organization they serve as board members.

6. Fundraising is quick process.

False: Whoever believes this one has never raised nonprofit dollars.

7. Direct Mail is dead.

False: Average response rate is 5-9%; combines with digital marketing methods the average rate is 28%.

8. Small nonprofits shouldn’t bother with major gifts or planned giving.

False: You have major gift donors. You just need to identify them. Loyal donors want to leave a legacy. Let them know your organization welcomes that kind of support.

9. Volunteers are good donors.

True, true, true: Volunteers already give their time. They believe in your mission. Cultivate them for their financial support.

10. Don’t worry about “small” donors with stewardship.

False: All donors want to feel appreciated. How can you show your gratitude?

Let’s keep those fundraising myths in check and focus on good practices to raise dollars.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

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

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