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Top 10 Fundraising Mistakes to Avoid

Updated on January 27, 2013

Implementing an effective, profitable fundraising event takes work….a lot of WORK! A successful fundraising event requires extensive planning, strategy, budgeting and coordination.

The size of the organization is irrelevant, RAISING MONEY is the common theme.

Although, it is impossible to prevent all mistakes or foresee every problem that could occur; the following tips may help your organization avoid fundraising mistakes that can mean the difference between a successful event and one that is not!

Mistake #1: Crisis Mode Fundraising

Avoid THROWING TOGETHER a fundraiser to address an immediate financial emergency. Hosting a fundraising event requires extensive planning. Allow a minimum of four to six months for planning.


Mistake #2: Failing to Research Conflicting Fundraising Events

The goal of a fundraising event is NOT to simply attract dedicated supporters of your cause, but to attract new donors and volunteers. It is imperative to thoroughly research, Community Calendars and Similar Organization Websites to help identify conflicts, ultimately increasing the likelihood of greater attendance and funds raised.

Mistake #3: Failing to Prepare a Budget

Failing to create and follow a strict budget can drastically and negatively impact the potential profits of the intended FUNDRAISING event. Be mindful of expenses (large and small) not included in the budget.

Mistake #4: Dependence upon In-Kind Donations

Donated items are a key component for the success of a fundraising event and part of the planning process should include a strategy for requesting In-Kind donations; the danger lies in DEPENDING upon them. These items should be included in the budget and when (if) they are actually donated, this increases the profit margin.

Mistake #5: Lack of Back-Up Planning

A back-up plan is necessary in the event of inclement weather or unforeseen emergencies. Many times preparations are made to move an outdoor event, indoors. However, remember that severe weather can affect overall attendance, INDOORS or OUT.

Mistake #6: Failing to Abide by Local Laws and Ordinances

Verify that the event is covered under an existing insurance policy or inquire as to whether or not an umbrella policy may be necessary. Obtain ALL required permits and be aware of ordinances that have the potential to interrupt or shut down the event. (Example: Noise, Traffic and or Parking Ordinances)

Mistake #7: Lack of Marketing Strategy

Social media (Facebook/Twitter) are great tools; however, this resource should never be relied upon as the ONLY source of marketing. If people are not aware of the event, they will not attend. Again, the budget should include at least a minimum amount for advertising costs.

Mistake #8: Professional Fee/Contract Misunderstandings

Read contracts CAREFULLY regarding payment, equipment and fees for speakers, musicians, etc.

Mistake #9: Equipment Issues/Security

When at all possible, have extra equipment or qualified staff that can correct an issue. Problems with sound systems, refrigeration units, air-conditioning/heat and outdoor electric outlets can RUIN a fundraising event. Also, SECURITY is vital for the protection of attendees, workers and facilities.

Mistake #10: Failure to Form a Fundraising Committee

ALWAYS form a fundraising committee of dedicated volunteers who are willing to take charge of certain tasks. Never tackle the challenge of putting together a fundraising event alone or with minimal volunteers.

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    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Good advice. I am newly in charge of fundraising for our scout pack and never thought of most of these things. Thank you!

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