Last week, I shared 10 things you need to do MORE of in 2017 if you want to fully fund your nonprofit’s mission. (Read it here if you missed it.)
 
Today, I have 10 things you need LESS of this year.
 
Why?
 

Sometimes less is more.

 
Cut out the things that don’t produce enough ROI to be worth your time.
 
Get rid of things that don’t move you forward toward your goals.
 
Cease immediately all the things that turn off your donors.
 
And for Pete’s sake, stop doing thihttp://getfullyfunded.com/wp-admin/plugins.phpngs just because you always have. It’s a terrible reason to include something in your annual plan.
 
So, what are you doing now that you need to do less of this year to raise more money? Here’s my list:

 
 
1. Self-centered language.  Drop the ‘fundraising french’ where you say ‘we, we, we’ and ‘us, us, us.’ Stop bragging on yourself (because who likes to listen to that?) and talk about things your donor will understand and resonate with. No more jargon. No more talking about your staff’s credentials. And please stop talking about your annual fund as if donors know what it is.
 
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2. Anniversary celebrations. Don’t plan a big celebration of your nonprofit’s anniversary. This date may be important to you, but chances are good that the occasion won’t motivate your donors to give, so don’t expect it to. Don’t have special letterhead printed with your anniversary date on it. Don’t plan a special reception for it (people probably won’t come). Your organization’s longevity isn’t a reason to celebrate. People EXPECT you to be around for the long haul. If you’re trying to use your anniversary as a reason to raise funds, you’re grasping at straws.
 
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3. Events.  Get off the special event hamster wheel and stop going from event to event all year long. Do 1 event and do it really well. Make it your signature event so everyone associates it with your organization. Pour all your event energy into this one occasion and blow it out of the water, then spend the rest of your year focused on building your donor base and improving your donor retention rate.
 
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4. Transactional giving. Anytime someone gets something in exchange for their ‘donation,’ it’s a transaction. Transactional giving results in people who expect stuff for their money, which is not a good situation. They’re not really donors. Instead, build up a donor base full of people who give because they love your cause and want to help make a difference. In other words, they’re in it for the transformation they’re helping bring about. It’s okay to have transactional giving in your plan, just make sure the majority of your activities are transformational.

Transactional Transformational
Selling candy bars, candles, T-shirts, calendars, etc.
Golf tournaments, walks, runs
Live or silent auctions
 
Direct appeals
Monthly giving
Sponsor a child/animal
Major gifts
Matching gifts
 

 
 
5. Looking for “rich” people. Just because someone has money doesn’t mean they’ll give it to you. So, stop looking for new donors based on how big their bank account or annual income is. Instead, look for a connection to your cause or organization. People who care about the work you’re doing are likely to give if you ask them nicely. 
 
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6. Spray and pray approach. Trying to reach EVERYONE with one message doesn’t work. You need to segment your list and communicate with them in a way that works for them. For example, people who are actively giving and engaged with your organization need a different appeal than those who haven’t given in 5 years or those who have never given. The message can be similar, but should be slightly different to appeal to individual segments. Likewise, don’t send one grant proposal to dozens of foundations hoping to score somewhere. It won’t work. Take the time to understand who you’re communicating with and send them the right message/appeal.
 
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7. Assuming people will give.  It’s so easy to fall into this trap. Your nonprofit is doing good work and YOU love it, so you assume everyone else will love it too. And it doesn’t work that way. Remember, people need to have a link and an interest in your nonprofit’s mission before they’ll give. Make sure those are there before you ask.
 
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8. Boring newsletters. If I could get every nonprofit to stop one thing this year, this would be it! Please, please, please stop slapping things into a newsletter format just so you can check it off your To Do list! Instead, take the time to put yourself in your donor’s shoes and ask yourself “What am I interested in? What would I like to know about?” THEN write your newsletter. Remember to keep it warm, friendly, and full of emotional connection. People should feel GOOD about your nonprofit after reading your newsletter, not bored out of their minds.
 
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9. Winging it. I see so many people who have a plan except that it’s in their head and changes on a dime. News flash: that’s not really a plan!  Set aside the time you need to get a plan together so you can be purposeful about raising money. When you have a clear plan, you’ll know exactly what you need to do each day, and you’ll not only get more done, you’ll be less stressed in the process.
 
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10. Blaming your Board. Your Board is made up of nice people who want to help you succeed, but they don’t always know how to best help. Offer them some training. Show them two or three things they can do this year to help open doors and bring resources to the table. My favorite activity is to get them involved in thanking current donors with a phone call or a hand-written note. It’s low-risk and high-impact, and afterward, Board members are usually pretty excited and ready to take on the next challenge.
 
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This CAN be your year! The power is in YOUR hands to get clear, lay out a strategy, and get into action to raise big bucks. Use this list to guide you around what NOT to do so you can work toward fully funding your budget.

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