If your fundraising is flat (or worse, declining) there are reasons why.

Figuring out what is causing your disheartening results is the first step in fixing it.

You may feel as though you’re trying everything you can think of and nothing is really working. You want to bring in big bucks, but the truth is your fundraising results are mediocre at best. You’re at a loss as to what to do next.

Would you like to know how to find the problem and fix it?

Consider the Cycle of Mediocre Fundraising.

It starts when you or your Board realize you need to raise more money.

You start down a path to raise money to meet budget or to keep from closing a program, and before long, you get overwhelmed. The amount you need is daunting and you aren’t sure what to do to raise all the money you need. Frankly you’re more than a bit nervous. You’ve already badgered your current donors too many times and the idea of cold-calling for donations terrifies you.

So you put it off. You decide that you’ll get moving as soon as you get a really good idea. And time goes by.

Finally, you realize you’re up against a deadline and you’ve got to do something, so you go back to whatever has worked before and you give it a try. You know there are probably better, more effective ways to raise money, but at this point, you don’t have time to find them or learn about them.

Your results are lackluster and you blame the economy. You blame your Board because they certainly didn’t help. You say to yourself “There’s too much competition for the dollar out there and we’re just a small organization. And we don’t have a sexy mission, so no one’s going to give to us anyway.”

Since you didn’t raise all the money you needed, the cycle repeats itself, starting with someone identifying the need to raise more money.

Any of that sound familiar? My sympathies. Now, let’s fix it.

Once you identify the need to raise money, get really clear about the amount you need. Down to the penny. Be sure to include both direct and indirect costs.

Create a Case for Support to give you a basis for fundraising. When you know all the reasons why someone should support your campaign, it’s easier to stay calm, cool, and collected. You won’t be asking people to support your nonprofit, but asking them to help you provide food to needy families or after-school care to at-risk kids. See the difference? Your donors and prospects will. And they’re rather support the latter!

Put together a fundraising plan identifying the best strategy for raising money for your particular situation, targeting specific donors or audiences. Having a plan will help you avoid procrastination and settling for whatever you can come up with. Having plenty of time to work on fundraising gives you room to modify your plan if needed.

When things go well, there will be no need to blame anyone. Instead, you’ll do Lessons Learned to see what you might improve upon next time.

You can find yourself inside the Cycle of Mediocre Fundraising before you know it. One way to stay out of it is to be careful with your mindset. In other words, watch your thoughts and words. Your mindset, or the way you think about things, will make up as much as 90% of your success or failure.

If you believe you’ll be successful in fundraising, you will. If not, you won’t. Simple as that.

So, if your fundraising has been flat lately, have a close look at the five points in the Cycle of Mediocre Fundraising to see if you’ve gotten stuck on it. Then take the necessary steps to get yourself out.

And if you need extra help, check out my Get Fully Funded system for fundraising. It’s full of easy-to-implement fundraising strategies designed to help you raise big money for your nonprofit.



  1. Sandy, Thanks for sharing your wisdom and caring heart. I have your book Get Fully Funded and it has provided me with no nonsense ways to find partners who want to fund us. I am planning on putting a NO EXCUSES poster in my office today!!

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