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Mayes Wilson & Associates

4 things fundraisers should stop doing in 2022

Julie Whelan Capell |

I’m a sucker for all those “trend” articles that come out at the beginning of the year, but they always leave me wondering who has time to do all the new things we’re supposed to be doing?

The answer is, stop doing something. But what?

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

1) Reconsider your special events

How long have we been saying that special events are the most costly, least productive fundraising activity a nonprofit can do? I first heard this when I starting fundraising in the 1980s. With COVID forcing the cancellation of most events for nearly two years, many nonprofits are finally seeing the light. Annual giving has actually increased during the pandemic, so please . . . don’t fall back on old habits. Older donors, who’ve been the mainstay of events in the past, are ever more wary of large public gatherings. Corporate donors can be redirected to other sponsorship opportunities (have you tried asking them to match gifts made during an online giving day?) Millenials and Gen Z prefer hands-on volunteering to galas. And best of all, staff who don’t have to coordinate the 1,001 details of an annual gala will be able to reallocate their time to other, more effective fundraising strategies.

2) Ditch your printed annual report and donor list

Back in the Dark Ages before the Internet, one of the primary ways nonprofits let their donors know what they were accomplishing was through the publication of a multi-page annual report. Nearly always, these reports included a donor list, organized by amount given. Many a development director spent weeks looking for photos, writing clever copy, and agonizing over whether there were any spelling errors or omissions in the donor list (there were always errors and omissions). Now that you can have ongoing conversations with supporters via social media channels and email, why are you still printing an annual report? Switch to a “year in review” page on your website and think how much time and money you’ll save. If you have donors who aren’t online, you can easily print the “year in review”, add a note and mail it.

3) Refuse to go after funding from sources that require too much work

Yes, I said it. Some funding opportunities simply aren’t worth your time and energy. I’m talking about corporate foundations that require ridiculous amounts of marketing in return for their donation. I’m talking about foundations that have onerous application or reporting processes. I’m talking about funding pools (think “100 women”-type schemes) that force nonprofits through so many hoops to get their money that by the end, the nonprofit is so exhausted there’s no energy left to do the actual work. Such “opportunities” are bad for all nonprofits, but they are particularly toxic for small, emerging nonprofits that don’t have the bandwidth to deal with needlessly complex application processes.

4) Stop asking your donors for cash

Cash is definitely not king any more, at least not in fundraising. After the change in tax laws in 2018, cash gifts are no longer the best way for donors, especially major donors, to support your organization. Estimates are that only 10% of people will itemize deductions on their 2021 taxes, so very few people will care about getting a tax deduction for cash donations. We also know that asking people to donate out of their current cash flow makes people donate less. But if you talk to people about donating out of their assets, they will feel more wealthy and generous. What do I mean by assets? Stocks, DAFs, and IRAs. If you don’t know how to get these types of donations, give us a call, we have lots of ideas!

What’s something you will STOP this year? We’d really like to know!

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