Twen­ty symp­toms of fundrais­ing trouble

Written by
Reinier Spruit
November 26, 2015

There are a lot of fundraisers out there who are in their comfort zone. They don’t like change; they might be afraid of change.

If you are doing everything right the need for change is obviously less urgent. However, most of us are not doing everything right. So there is a big chance you can improve your fundraising.

And the only one stopping you is, well, YOU!

How often have you said: this is how we do things around here? You might not have said it out loud, but I bet some of you were thinking it. And if you were not thinking it, I’m sure some of you did unconsciously.

The more of the following symptoms you recognise, the more you might be in very serious trouble…

  • You will not review historic data and you follow your own instincts rather than testing.
  • You will not meet up with fundraisers from other organisations.
  • You will not engage in staff retreats to dissect and rebuild your programme, brick by brick.
  • You will not attend any conferences, let alone listen to any other bright fundraiser.
  • You will not engage your board members in any high-value donor event.
  • You will not hire great fundraisers because you are afraid they’ll outsmart you in team meetings.
  • You will not test, but if you do you will consider your test results will mostly be inconclusive.
  • You will not engage with donors.
  • You will not know the latest developments in traditional, social, or new media.
  • You will not listen to or act on expert advice, in fact, you will feel criticised and will not discuss it any further.
  • You will not start a fight with your colleagues in communications who are holding your donor newsletter hostage.
  • You will not have an analytical approach to evaluating your results, nor will you learn from best practice.
  • You will not try to persuade your boss to get more budget and staff to support your plans.
  • You will not be the one to blame when results are down, in fact, reasons for underperforming are all external.
  • You will not excite your colleagues, au contraire, your downward spiral will infect others.
  • You will not innovate, take a risk or simply re-think existing paradigms.
  • You will not do, read, or understand market research, despite competitors outperforming you.
  • You will not focus on the main KPIs that will drive your programme towards more growth.
  • You will not be able to seriously self-reflect.
  • You will not have a long-term vision or plan.

Unfortunately you will not be held accountable, hence the fact you are still in your role and doing your same ole, same ole fundraising.

I am sorry. You will not raise enough funds for your cause.

If you recognise these symptoms you’d better do something about it. Right now. Today.

WARNING: this list is not exhaustive. There are many more symptoms. Please share any extra points in the comments below.

About the author: Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit has been in love with fundraising since 2001. Ever since, he’s kept trying to improve his own fundraising skills and those of others. He's also the founder of 101fundraising, the crowdblog on fundraising.

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