Top 13 Mistakes Nonprofits Make When Fundraising

Fundraising is a critical part of any nonprofit’s success. Without the financial support of donors, nonprofits can’t provide the services and programs that meet their mission goals. However, fundraising for nonprofits is complex and requires a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, many nonprofits make mistakes that can derail their fundraising efforts.


The Top 13 Mistakes Nonprofits Make When Fundraising

1. Not having clear goals

Before you start any fundraising campaign, it’s important to have clear goals in mind. What do you hope to accomplish with this campaign? Are you trying to raise money for a certain project or program? Do you want to increase your donor base or reach new audiences? By having measurable goals and objectives, you will be able to track your progress throughout the campaign and make adjustments as needed.

2. Not setting realistic goals

One of the most common mistakes that nonprofits make when it comes to fundraising is not setting realistic goals. Setting goals gives you something to aim for and measure your progress against, but if those goals are too ambitious, they can be more of a hindrance than a help. When deciding on goals, take into account all of the factors involved in the process such as the size and capability of your team, available resources, and current donor base.

3. Not setting a realistic budget

Having an accurate budget is essential for any successful fundraising campaign. You need to know how much money you can realistically raise and how much it will cost you to achieve those goals. Be sure to include staffing costs, printing costs, event costs, advertising costs, etc., so that your budget reflects the true cost of your campaign.

4. Relying too much on one fundraising method

Many nonprofits get stuck in a rut when it comes to fundraising methods and rely too heavily on one method such as direct mail appeals or silent auctions. While these methods may work well in certain situations, they may not be effective when trying to reach new audiences or appeal to younger donors who are more likely to give online or via social media platforms. It’s important to diversify your fundraising methods so that you can maximize your potential donor base and increase donations overall.

5. Ignoring donor retention strategies

It’s not enough just to attract new donors; retaining existing donors is just as important if not more so than gaining new ones! Building relationships with current donors should be a priority for any successful nonprofit organization because these individuals are more likely than others to become repeat donors over time if they feel appreciated and valued by the organization they support financially.

6. Failing to invest in your donor base

Many organizations forget how important existing donors are when it comes to fundraising success. It’s not enough just to acquire new donors; you also need to invest time and energy into keeping your existing ones engaged through thoughtful thank-you notes, regular updates on progress towards their donations, etc. Doing so will ensure that they continue to give year after year, which is key for any successful fundraising campaign.

7. Not utilizing social media

Social media has become an integral part of the nonprofit world over the last decade or so, yet many organizations still fail to use it properly or don’t use it at all. Utilizing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be a great way to spread awareness about your cause and reach potential new donors who may not have been aware of your organization otherwise.

8. Not diversifying your revenue streams

Relying solely on donations from individuals or large corporate grants is risky; if something were to happen with one of those sources (e.g., a major donor pulls out) then you could find yourself in a difficult situation financially speaking. Diversifying your revenue streams by exploring different ways such as crowdfunding campaigns or even selling merchandise with your logo on it can help ensure that you always have multiple sources of income coming in should one dry up unexpectedly.

9. Ignoring small donors

Just because someone doesn’t donate a huge amount doesn’t mean they should be ignored! Smaller donors play an important role in any nonprofit’s fundraising efforts; they might not give exactly what bigger donors do, but they offer consistent support which is invaluable over time as well as being less work intensive than trying to secure larger sums from fewer people.

10. Not asking for referrals

Word-of-mouth referrals are incredibly powerful tools when it comes to spreading awareness about your cause or organization; however, many organizations fail to ask their existing supporters for referrals or don’t make it easy for them do so (i.e., no “share this” buttons on their website). Making sure that all communications include requests for referrals helps keep your message top-of-mind with everyone who interacts with you online or in person! 

11. Overlooking unique fundraising opportunities

Sometimes fundraisers come along in unexpected forms or packages; maybe there’s an event happening nearby that has clickable donation links attached or perhaps an individual wants to host their own fundraiser on behalf of your organization. Exploring these unique opportunities can lead not only lead directly increased donations but also create connections between other individuals who may want to get involved by hosting similar events themselves down the line. 

12. Being too aggressive with follow up

Following up with donors is important, particularly if they haven’t given recently, but being overly aggressive can backfire quickly. Bombarding them with emails, phone calls, etc., will likely turn off any potential return engagement before it even starts. Instead, focus on providing helpful content such as case studies and stories from beneficiaries which will demonstrate why their donation was so valuable without seeming too pushy.

13. Failing to leverage technology

Technology has revolutionized how we communicate and interact with each other; yet surprisingly many nonprofits still do very little beyond basic email correspondence when it comes leveraging tech tools. From automated systems that keep track of donations made via text messages, social media automation tools, AI chatbots for answering FAQs in real time – there’s no shortage of options available today.


Fundraising is essential for any nonprofit organization looking for financial support from its donor base in order to continue operations and meet its mission goals. The secret to success is consistent efforts in the right places.

New Target has had great success with many nonprofits including TechnoServe, a global poverty-fighting nonprofit. We have the team in place and a long track record of success to elevate your nonprofit to the next level with successful fundraising strategies and execution.  

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