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Avoid the Biggest Myth in Fundraising and Build Your Donor Program Right

I often have organizations coming to me, telling me they need to raise more money. They want to know how to find new donors.

The first thing I want to know is how they treat their donors.

The Myth of Fundraising

I hear it a lot, particularly from start-up organizations: we just need to find that one person who can write a big check, and then we can achieve our programming goals.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, thinking that your organization’s challenge is not having enough donors when your fundraising focus is just getting new donors in the door.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, thinking you just need to go out and find that one high-capacity person in your network or community and deliver the perfect pitch, when you think fundraising is about getting new donors.

The Reality is Different

Fundraising isn’t about finding new donors. At least, not entirely.

Fundraising is about building relationships with people who share your mission and values and want the kind of impact you are striving to make in the world.

Donors like to give to things their friends and family are involved in. They like people vouching for organizations they might invest in. They are looking for an organization to have mission and value fit.

And if they are going to write you a big check, they want to have some kind of relationship with you.

Which means they’re not the random celebrity in town that you just need to get in front of with the perfect pitch.

The reality is, for established organizations, the person who will give you a significant donation is already giving to you.

They are already investing in you and getting to know you. They want to know that their investment will have the returns of impact they are looking for.

If you’re a startup, donors need to feel inspired by what you will achieve and confident you know what to do to achieve it and can deliver. And they may not be writing that big check until you’ve proved some impact.

It takes a lot of work to get new donors to give to you. It’s important, time consuming, multi-year, relationship-focused work.

And it will take on average 18-24 months of relationship building for a donor to make a significant gift to your organization.

There is no magic bullet to finding new donors. There is no shortcut. You just have to put in the leg work.

Are you ready to put in the work to build an organization doing great work for the long haul? I can help. Let’s talk.


Megan Amundson is a nonprofit consultant who trains and coaches leaders of small and medium-sized nonprofits to raise more money from individuals.

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