4 Myths About Fundraising You Need to Stop Believing

I have talked with so many people about fundraising. Founders. Executive Directors. CEOs. Board members. and of course, fundraising staff.

What do many people believe that is Simply. Not. True?


1. If I pray, the money will come.

The money just appears when I need it! I find this mainly with faithbased organizations. I am all for positive affirmations to get you through the night, but this is magical thinking.

Hope is not a strategy.

The money will come because you built relationships. Probably in a few days a donor will reach out to you, you’ll meet with them, tell them you need money for your nonprofit, and they will give it to you. Was that a result of your praying? Nope. It was a result of you building relationships and probably some good marketing that you did awhile ago. Sitting on your hands and saying it’s “just gonna appear” is not a plan. If you’re scared of planning, then slay that serpent! Planning actually does help you get more money. Proof? Read the research on the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.

Aphrodite and venus are LAZY


2. We have never made a fundraising plan. We don’t need to.

Also not true. It’s nice that you have gotten this far. But guess what. That’s not going to take you to the next level. When you plan, then people get things done on timelines, and there are measurable outcomes and results. Suddenly, people are accountable. So, this is is something you need to work on if you want to take your nonprofit to the next level. If you make a fundraising plan, even if you never look at it again, it will definitely help you fundraise all year round. Proof? Again, read the research in the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.

3. MBAs and corporate people with no experience in fundraising are better at fundraising than the Development Associate/Assistant that we currently have.

Not true. This junior fundraising person already knows your fundraising processes. This person already knows your mission, and how to articulate it. This person has already started to build relationships with your donors. The MBA or corporate person will need at least 12 months to get up to speed with your current processes, and mission pitch, and donor relationship creation. That costs a lot of money. If you’re thinking about hiring for a more senior fundraising position, do not make the mistake of overlooking someone you currently have in a more junior fundraising role. Invest in their training, and they may surprise you in how well they can fundraise for you!

Cupid and Psyche myth


4. We can just keep running this organization-no need to think about succession planning.

I see this a lot with nonprofit founders. I love my nonprofit, I love my staff, they will always need me. They will never want to leave! We will just keep on keeping on here until I keel over at my desk!

They don’t have a plan to think about the future. What if they get hit by a bus? What if they get bored and want to do something else? What if they get cancer or have a heart attack? This is an uncomfortable topic for a lot of founders and executive directors, they don’t want to think that they are replaceable. If you are not planning for your eventual departure, you are doing your organization a disservice. Now is the time to plan for who, how and when. Even if it’s 7 years down the road. Even if it’s 10. It’s important, for the sake of your services, and your employees, to think about how to be a better leader, and how to plan for your eventual succession.

Bonus Myth 5. This person (could be the development person, or founder) has a working spouse, therefore they do not need to make a large salary.

This is one of the most insidious myths I’ve seen at small nonprofits. It makes me so angry! I’ve seen it at arts nonprofits and at social service nonprofit organizations, and it’s just jaw dropping.

Who perpetuates this myth?

Sometimes it’s the board, who won’t approve a higher salary for the fundraising staff person. There’s very much the attitude of “here you go little woman, you’re doing this for the mission, this is all you get.”

Sometimes it’s the founder themselves who decides that the nonprofit can just remain a hobby, because they have a full time day job, or their partner makes a lot of money. I’ve seen this over and over again with small nonprofits, often with a retired corporate person at the head.

Hope you’ve got these illusions and myths out of the way with some real talk!

Any other nonprofit myths you think I missed?

Please leave a comment!

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