Monday, February 4, 2013

Debunking Five More Top Fundraising Myths

It's amazing to me how much time and energy nonprofits waste on fundraising strategies that have no basis in fact - and quite simply don't work. Here are five more common myths about fundraising and why they are incorrect:

Myth: Philanthropy comes from rich people, so your best strategy is to solicit rich strangers.
Fact: Just because someone is wealthy doesn't mean they are philanthropic, or that they will give to your particular nonprofit. In fact, rich folks are often financially comfortable because they don't give money away. On the other hand, people with modest incomes can surprise you with substantial gifts if they are dedicated to your nonprofit cause. A recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy indicated that middle-class households earning $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6% of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2% for people who make $100,000 or more. People don't make charitable contributions because they have lots of money; they donate because they know you, they care about your cause, they value your organizational work, and they want to help out.

Myth: Men give more money than women.
Fact: According to a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, women age 50 and older give more than men – much more. In the highest bracket, women donate sums that are two times more than men at a similar economic level - for every $100 given by affluent men, women give $256. In fact, at every giving level, women are more likely to donate plus they give a bigger share of their income.

Myth: You don't know anyone who has money to donate.
Fact: Actually, you do. Statistics show that 65% of Americans (7 out of every 10 people you know) make charitable gifts. You are surrounded by potential donors: you just have to ask.

Myth: A good strategy is to have lots of wealthy people on your board.
Fact: A far better strategy is to have people on your board who are committed to your organization, understand their roles and responsibilities as board members, readily volunteer their time and skills, and not only make substantial gifts of their own (whether that be $50 or $10,000) but also ask their friends and acquaintances to join them in supporting your nonprofit organization.

Myth: Boards just can't and won't fundraise.
Fact: Most people who join boards have no experience with fundraising and feel anxious about asking people for money – but this can be changed. It takes leadership by staff, appropriate training, teamwork, and a paradigm shift that establishes that fundraising is a central and honorable part of your work.

Debunking common myths is a good first step in making the organizational shift to what is now being called a culture of philanthropy. This means embracing the value of fundraising as an ongoing opportunity to build relationships, expand your community, strengthen your programs, and further your mission.

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