Category Archives: Fundraising Myths

Fundraising Myth # 5: There’s a secret formula

I was talking with a colleague recently, about fundraising. We shared a few jokes we’d heard, like “performing cashectomies” and “extracting cash without anesthesia.” But mostly we talked – with pride – about what was being accomplished through the funds we had raised, and the many opportunities still out there. We also commiserated about the over-simplification of fundraising by many fundraisers. Read More

Fundraising Myth #4: Aim high

One of my main calls to action when I was leading Harvard Business School’s Capital Campaign was: “Aim high.” Early research had shown that HBS alumni’s capacity for giving – relative to their financial means, and their giving to other nonprofit organizations – was vastly untapped. But – and here’s the important caveat – we knew that we had to be realistic. HBS alumni, with the encouragement of the School, were very active in the philanthropic community. Being their top priority was highly unlikely; getting to number 3 or 4 on their giving list would be the strategy. By the end of the campaign, targets for significant gifts, alumni participation, and the overall campaign goal had been met and exceeded. Read More

Fundraising Myth #3: It’s a competition

One of my least favorite images of fundraisers is that of the Lone Ranger, swooping in on his horse to heroically seize the day. But, hey, what about Tonto? Fundraising is not just the person who makes the ask, whoever that may be. It requires a team of people with special talents, united by a common purpose, and recognized and appreciated for their contributions. It might be nice if it was easier, but it’s not. And, in fact, being part of a collaborative team is one of my favorite things about fundraising. Read More

Fundraising Myth #2: It’s All About You and Your Institution

Fundraising Myth #2: It’s All About You and Your Institution. This one will generally elicit one of two reactions: (1) “Huh?” and (2) “Of course not!” Let’s deal with each, in turn. The “Huh?” reaction is often from fundraisers who are so passionate about their mission that they can’t understand why anyone might be – well – less than excited. They may see “donors” as one great undifferentiated blob. The fact is that donors come in all shapes and sizes, with different interests and their own set of giving priorities. Read More

Fundraising Myth #1: You’re begging

“How can you do fundraising? It’s so unpleasant.” I’ve been asked that question many times. Many nonprofit volunteers and directors say they hate asking people – especially their peers – for money. They feel like they’re in unfamiliar, even hostile territory. And for some people, asking for money feels like begging, and no one wants to be a beggar. Read More

The truth about myths… and the myth about truths

This fall, I and my Getting to Giving colleagues were invited to put on a seminar about fundraising for Harvard Business School alumni. We began developing what we hoped would be an inspiring and value-added daylong seminar for people who were very involved in philanthropy, in one capacity or another. The response to the seminar invitation was encouraging, and some alumni brought along directors of nonprofit organizations they supported. Read More