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The 5 most common Corporate Fundraising Mistakes

As an experienced corporate fundraising coach, my job is to identify weaknesses in a charities approach and help improve performance. I often see the same mistakes coming up over and over again, sometimes as a weakness in overall corporate fundraising strategy and sometimes down to individual approach. Where the problem is down to individuals, the charity usually need to overhaul and improve their training programme. Sometimes, though, the problems are ingrained in charities culture and a more radical overhaul is required. Here are the top five mistakes I come across regularly:

1. No clear strategy. This one is really fundamental. If you don’t have clear, detailed goals and a set strategy for achieving them, there’s little likelihood you’ll achieve the desired result or even know if you’ve done so. Goals need to be set, assessed and evaluated regularly so that if things go a little off track you’ll be able to steer them back at an early stage.

2. Asking too little. Asking for donations can be difficult, and many of us have a natural tendency to ‘soften’ our request by asking for lower amounts. If someone’s going to make a donation at all, though, it’s because they believe in the cause. It’s up to us as fundraisers to give the client the correct information to allow them to make a decision they’re comfortable with, rather than making assumptions.

3. Not building relationships. This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. Talking to strangers can be challenging, and asking strangers for money can be a little uncomfortable. That’s why it’s so important to build a relationship with clients, allowing them to become invested over time in the charity’s aims. Time spent building a strong relationship is rarely wasted.

4. Not doing enough research on the client company. Imagine if you were sitting next to someone at a dinner party, and they constantly talked about themselves without showing any interest in you and then asked for a donation at the end of the evening. When you speak to clients, they want to know that you’re invested in them and their company and are interested in what they have to offer, that you can help them to achieve their aims and objectives. This is all part of building a strong relationship as above.

5. Too much hard sell. Putting pressure on the client to do something before they’re ready can be really harmful, as it can jeopardise future relationships. I often see this sort of problem in charities that have set fundraisers unrealistic targets, or are focusing only on one aspect of fundraising rather than looking at the whole picture.

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