Stranger Things Said by Executive Directors of Nonprofits
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Stranger Things Said by Executive Directors of Nonprofits

After several years of working with nonprofits around the country, I’ve found some organizations have leadership that is misguided about what fundraising is all about. Why? Because they assume they know better, without any training or reading industry literature and trends in the fields of fundraising and donor development.  You know what happens when we “a-s-s-u-m-e,” well, let’s not go there…

Here’s my top four stranger things said by Executive Directors of nonprofits over the years, or phrases they said to their staff, who later told me what they said-

  1. “I don’t think you (development director) should be bothering our donors by calling them.”   Bothering? Really? Is it bothering them to call them and say, “Thank you so much for the most generous gift we received from you yesterday?” That’s not bothering, that’s showing gratitude and making them feel SPECIAL! Who doesn’t like to be thanked? No one I’ve met!
  2. “That’s not the way to fund raise.” (I know better, even if I’ve never done it.)  Ok, so you know better. Tell me, how many fundraising trainings have you attended? Read any industry literature or blogs lately? Watched webinars? Been to any conferences lately showcasing fundraising best practices from experts?  Sure, you know better. Not.
  3. “Don’t send too many marketing emails. You will annoy our donors.” Not if you do it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t annoy your donors! Read nonprofit marketing expert John Haydon’s “5 Questions to Ask Before Sending That Email Blast.”  Test different email content and frequency. If a prospective donor unsubscribes from your list, what have you lost? Someone not really interested in supporting your cause in the first place.
  4. “I’d rather that you, (development director) not mail a year-end appeal, most of our donors already gave this year.”  For me, this is the kiss of death. This is the time of year when most donors make gifts. There’s plenty of statistics that say so! Your supporters actually expect an appeal from you at year-end. Don’t make the decision that they won’t give again by not sending them an appeal. You need to give them the opportunity to give again. If your appeal is written correctly, the response from your loyal donors will surprise you.

Have you any to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you!

Ayda