Fundraising for People Who Don't Fundraise: Call for Scenarios!

• fundraising practices • fundraising • effective fundraising • fundraisers • fundraising game • board's role in fundraising • fundraising is everybody's job
Ellen Bristol

Quick, boys and girls!! What's the least understood function in the nonprofit world?  One, two, three - it's fundraising!  Dan Pallotta calls it "the black sheep of the fundraising sector."  Nonprofits brag about how little they spend on it. Executive directors complain about it (or at least their lack of results).  And boards of directors make demands and expect miracles from the fundraising department, always with the best of intentions, but not necessarily with awareness of costs or other constraints.Money from fundraising

So far we've collected about twenty-five different scenarios describing common challenges that hurt fundraising results. We've also found about the same number of success stories about useful practices.  This blog is a call for more of the same!  Please send us stories about your experiences in getting staff or board involved in the fundraising effort,  either positive or negative.  We'll add the best ones to The SMART Fundraising Game, and give you credit - unless you prefer anonymity!!!  Simply post your experiences them to this blog or email them to

Here's one of the "Loss" scenarios:

  • You're desperate about the financial situation, so you decide to apply for ten new grants without doing any research or leveraging any connections.

That particular strategy is more likely to cost you money (or time, which is the same thing), without producing much of a return.

Here's another:

  • You report your fundraising status to the board.  They're not happy with the news, so they tell you to plan four more events over the next three months.  You say yes.

How often has that happened?  I'd be a zillionaire if I could count the number of times I've heard about "event fever." Events are valuable, no doubt, but they are certainly not the magic bullet.  And it's easy to run an event that loses money.

Or what about a scenario like this:
  • Your programs director knows an influential executive at a major local corporation that is famous for supporting causes like yours, but he's unwilling to introduce you; "I hate to ask for money," he says, "it might mess up my friendship."

I'll give you a minute now to go pound your head against the wall. 

Help us out by sending us some of your scenarios!  We're compiling them into a game called The SMART Fundraising Game.  Send us success stories of things your staff or board have done that end up improving fundraising results.  Or war stories about things that backfired, went wrong, or posed some obstacle to fundraising success.  If we use your scenario in the game we'll send you the game PLUS a copy of our e-book De-Mystifying Fundraising, and probably some other stuff as well.  We're in a generous mood.

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