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6 Fundraising Mistakes To Avoid

Author: Adie M.

Improving your fundraiser doesn’t have to involve adding something new or changing something fundamental. In most cases, the best improvement comes from avoiding simple mistakes. 

Fundraising can take lots of planning, which means there are usually a lot of places to make mistakes and fall short. That is why we have established some common fundraising mistakes and how to avoid them so your campaign runs smoothly. 

6 Common Fundraising Mistakes Nonprofits Make & How To Avoid Them 

Here are six common fundraising mistakes nonprofits make and what you can do to avoid them. 

Assuming Everyone Will Support Your Cause

As an organization with a cause, it's essential to understand your audience. Not everyone is going to resonate with your cause, and that’s okay. 

Unfortunately, one mistake many nonprofits make is to assume their cause is universal and that everyone will support it. In the end, this leads to disappointing fundraising results.

When running a campaign, it’s okay to advertise to everyone and ask for donations in a public space. However, don’t push your message too hard or aggressively. 

Rather, use targeted campaigns that really speak to your target audience and the people who are more likely to donate. This will help you connect more effectively with the right people, which will lead to more donations. 

Putting Awareness Above Action 

Another mistake nonprofits make is putting all their focus on spreading awareness. 

As vital as awareness is, you must ensure that your awareness campaigns are impactful. There is no point in spreading awareness for your cause when there is no plan for action.  

Action is about doing something to better the problem you have identified in your cause. 

You must show action and provide people with proof that their donations are going to be making a change. 

So make sure you create a plan on how you will use these donations to aid your cause. Ensure that this plan details what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.

Share the social impact of your cause with your donors and volunteers. 

No Transparency With Your Donors

When asking people to donate, it’s crucial to be transparent about where their money is going. 

People will become skeptical if you are not open about why they should support your cause and who or what the funds will be helping. 

Make your message and reason for your cause clear, and keep that going throughout your campaign. Try not to lose sight of the meaning behind your fundraiser.

You should also be transparent about your fundraising goals and let your donors track the progress toward these goals. People love seeing the growth of their donations when there is a communicated goal. It shows them how they’re making a difference to the world, which, of course, feels good and may lead to them making recurring donations or bigger ones!  

Transparency with your donors is also important for retention. When you are open and honest with your donors, you form a meaningful relationship with them, which is why they return. 

NPO team at work

Only Expecting Monetary Donations 

Only expecting monetary donations is one way to lose supporters of your campaign.

There are people out there who would love to support your campaign but simply do not have the funds.

If you prioritize monetary donations, that will isolate a group of willing supporters, which harms your cause in the long run. 

Supporters can offer their time to help build your campaign, or they could spread your message to others, gaining more donors and volunteers. 

Donors can offer more than just money. For example, if you are running an auction, you can ask them to donate jewelry or travel packages. 

On your campaign website, have a page for volunteer sign-up. Volunteers donate their time, which aids in creating a successful fundraiser. 

Emphasize that people do not need to donate money to support your fundraiser. Ask them to spread awareness through social media.

You can also ask them to donate anything that could help the purpose of your cause. For example, if you would like to spread awareness for period poverty, people could donate pads and tampons. They could also donate non-perishable food items or clothes if your cause is about helping homeless shelters. 

Poor Donation Pages 

Ensuring user-friendly donation pages is a crucial step in reaching your fundraising goal.

If your donors cannot locate simple features such as the donation button, that could result in a loss of donor engagement. 

Your donation page should be easy to read and have clear information about your cause.

The design of your donation website should be mobile-friendly. That means that on whichever device your supporters access your donation page, the page should resize according to the device. 

Remember to include multiple payment options and address information about in-person auctions and drop-off sites, if required. 

How to avoid:   

Be consistent with branding. Your donation page should sync with your website and the branding you set up for your campaign.           

Ensure your donation page has secure payment links, as your donors are sharing private and sensitive information on your page. 

Ensure that the structure of your donation page is cohesive and that your donation button is bold.  

Poor Planning 

Planning a successful fundraising event takes months of preparation. If you start too late, you can miss important details that could make your event unforgettable. 

A rushed planning process can unnecessarily stress your volunteers and your fundraising team. You may also not have enough time to prevent unexpected roadblocks or obstacles in your planning process. 

Ultimately, poor planning could result in an underwhelming event for a cause with great potential. Supporters may not return or show up to your event if they realize you did not plan appropriately. 

Here are some tips to avoid this:

  • For in-person fundraising events, book your venue months before the date you set for your fundraiser. 
  • Set a budget for everything you will need to prepare for the day- including decorations and emergency funds, in case of a problem.
  • Form teams and appoint leaders to ensure that every aspect of the event goes according to plan. 

NPO team working at computer


Mistakes like these can affect the longevity of your campaign. That is why knowing how to avoid them will benefit your cause.

When you organize a fundraiser, ensure that you plan everything well and are as transparent as possible. Keep these common fundraising mistakes in mind so that you can work to avoid them and ensure a more successful outcome for your fundraising efforts.