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Whack-a-Mole Fundraising

Who remembers the classic arcade game, Whac-a-Mole? The typical version was a cabinet with a play area and display. There were five to eight holes, and you used a soft mallet to whack cartoonish moles at random. The more whacks and faster reaction meant a higher score.


Sometimes, fundraising can feel like an ongoing game of Whac-a-Mole. A new idea or funder comes up and you react to that opportunity. Something new or unexpected may be a viable option, but to pursue that opportunity, something else will have to become a lower priority.


Here are some fundraising moles you don’t want to whack.

Chase the $$

A new major corporation relocates to your city. Every nonprofit wants their support, including yours.

Better option: Do your research. Does this company support your mission, or your specific community? Does your board or other stakeholders have a connection with this corporation? If there is a connection, pursue it. If not, don’t waste your time.

Reactive vs Proactive

Remember when we heard that MacKenzie Scott was awarding mega amounts of money? Everyone reacted to the news and it was hard to resist the opportunity. How many of us spent countless hours crafting the perfect application?

Better option: Work your grants pipeline. This means focusing on those foundations where you have a relationship and a better chance of receiving funding.

Bouncing around fundraising ideas

Who doesn’t love a great brainstorming meeting? The problem is constant brainstorming with no decisions made and/or no follow through.

Better option: The best time to brainstorm and bounce ideas is at your annual department planning retreat. Examine what worked last year and what did not. This is where creative new ideas come into play and can be integrated into your annual plan.

Not sticking with plan

You had your team retreat and together you came up with your plan. Then, either you put it on a shelf and forgot about it or your executive director or board chair has other ideas, or another option to pursue.

Better option: Keep your plan in front of you and your team. When a new idea or opportunity comes up, ask yourself how it fits into the plan or how can you revise the plan to accommodate the new opportunity. You don’t want to be totally inflexible, but use the plan is to keep your fundraising on track.


Instead of these whack-a-mole options, I recommend having an integrated, strategic development plan for your fiscal year. Make the plan and then consistently work that plan.



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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