I can write many posts (as I have done – and I will continue doing!) about what to do in fundraising. How to become visible. Where to look for donors. What to do to inspire trust. But this time I just want to share with you five examples of what not to do in fundraising. No worries, I add five tips, too!

Asking someone you do not know

  1. Asking someone for money – without prior contact.

Tip: invest in building relations first so that you know whether you have a shared dream with someone. And so that you know if there is a basis for a possible donor relationship.

If you have a shared dream, you still need to find out if the person is willing and able to donate toward that dream. And you need to find out how you can ask them for a contribution, and what is the right time for them to contribute. All these things you can find out, step by step, and very gently, over time, while you are investing in the relationship.

But what if I invest in the wrong person?

You may think that it is better to find out straightaway if someone is going to give money or not. So that you don’t “waste” your time on the wrong person.

But if your first contact is a request for money, the answer you get is not necessarily representative of the person’s donation potential. They may feel forced to give money and avoid you after that. Or they may decline and walk away. While perhaps if you had invested in building a relationship, they might have become regular donors for a longer period.

Responding to a no

  1. Responding to a no as follows: “If you are not a donor or an investor, but as a God man you can help one of my problems. Because you are live in rich country, and you are also rich.”

Tip: If you make an ask and the person says no, act graciously. Thank them for their answer and their time. Ask them if they are interested in receiving updates about your work, a specific story or case, etc. If possible, keep the connection going without any pressure.



Don’t assume to know things about this person

Don’t act like someone who lost a football match. Show the person respect and understanding. You may think they have all the money in the world to give. But you are not in their shoes, and you do not know all their existing obligations and worries. You do not know for a fact they are rich, and you do not know for a fact they can help your problems.

Be personal only if you got your facts straight

And: if you reference any kind of religion or gender (“as a God man”), make sure this is correct. Maybe they are not a man (like me 😉) and maybe they have a different faith. Or maybe they feel this is personal and nothing to do with you. This kind of mistakes will not happen to you if you invest in building relations first.

Presenting your ask

  1. Emailing with just a link to a gofundme page.
  2. Emailing as reply to an unrelated email with a two-page word document attached, without any other text in the email itself.

Tip: try to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. Would you click on a link or attachment in an email with no further information? With all the scams, phishing attacks and hacks that are happening these days? I bet your IT person warns you against that very strongly! Don’t expect your possible donor to be stupid and click on everything they receive from strangers. (or even from you, as your account might have been hacked and spreading further).

Aside from the obvious dangers these days in opening unexpected links or files, think about how you behave before you pay for something. Would you hand out money to someone you do not know when they don’t even send a personalized message to you? Without explanation why they think this is for you? I am sure you would not. You pay for things you need, want and ordered. Not for random things some stranger throws at you with telling you why you want to invest in it.

Tone of voice of your ask

  1. Asking with a threat: “The war is now at our doorsteps and I want to thank all those that are supporting the efforts against the enemy through your giving. This is the time to think about the most vulnerable amongst us. We are all in this and if we don’t save the needy ones, who knows you might be the next “

Tip: invest in building relations! This above text, that I received, may work very well for someone else with a different mindset and background. For me, not so much. If the person had invested time in getting to know me a bit, by following me on social media, reading my newsletters and blogs, they might have learned that threatening me I could be next is the not the way into my heart or wallet.

Building a relationship is about really getting to know the person. It is not just exchanging messages, but it is about listening and reading carefully. About paying attention to the words used (and not used). About getting a sense of the values of the person. And about finding the way to speak to them so they can really hear you and feel you.

My key tips

  • Look carefully at your communications: are you spammy or are you real? Are you truly interested in the person whose money you would like to use to achieve your shared dream? Have you truly invested in finding out what their dreams are and are you sure your dreams are aligned?
  • Invest time in building relations, online and offline as possible. It may seem slow going but remember: one slow and long-lasting yes is much better than 100 quick no’s from people who are annoyed by your messages and try to avoid you ever after.

How I can help

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Here is how I can help you set up your donation policy and SOPs professionally so you can start collecting meaningful data about what your donors like:

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