3 common mistakes nonprofits make and how to avoid them

Human error is built into our genetics, so don't stress out if a mistake happens with your nonprofit strategy at some point. The best course of action is to build off of these errors to improve your game plan. Learn how to avoid these three common philanthropy slip-ups and take action to prevent it from happening to your own organization.

1. Under investing in fundraising operations
There are several reasons why nonprofits neglect making substantial investments in fundraising operations. According to The Fundraising Authority contributor Joe Garecht, most organizations cite affordability issues as one particular rationale. Investments in this area include hiring a well-trained staff to develop an effective plan and building a well-performing website.

Even though philanthropies are raising money, they still can't afford development costs. Rather, their finances are going toward programs and services that promote their causes. Though this is the purpose of their efforts, Garecht argues that more importance needs to be placed on fundraising operations. Nonprofits must see this type of opportunity as an investment. The more money put into these types of events, the more money organizations will get in return.

2. Not putting enough attention on cultivation
Rallying up new donors and volunteers is a great way to expand your nonprofit, but don't forget about the people who have made contributions in the past. According to FundRaising Success, all of the energy put into getting more contributors is essentially a waste unless organizations do something to keep them around.

Retention strategies are key to making your association's acquisition efforts count. Always thank your donors by sending them a card or email or giving them a phone call. You can even hold events to honor major contributors. Additionally, make sure you inform people where their money is going toward. Explaining the difference their contributions are making is a great way to keep benefactors coming back to your philanthropy.

3. Not engaging social media followers
Utilizing online fundraising tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be a powerful marketing strategy for your nonprofit. However, they are only effective if you use them correctly. A common problem philanthropies make with social media is that they don't provide enough opportunity for followers to engage. This problem occurs when groups post too much information about themselves and don't follow their supporters back, use hash tags or pay attention during peak traffic.

Divide your posts evenly three ways between your associations' content, other groups' content, and conversational material. This way, you're filling people's news feeds with fresh information that pulls them into the discussion.

Additionally, members of your team should monitor social media sites in order to find out when people like or share your posts most often.

When in doubt, follow the norms. Social media trends are constantly changing, and you need to keep up to stay relevant. If you see a pattern emerging, jump on the bandwagon.

For example, you could check out these Twitter best practices on Julia Campbell's blog.

A quick read through reveals that nonprofits should:

  • Completely fill out the "Bio" section.
  • Do some hashtag research.
  • Follow some more people.
  • Tweet out photos.

Head on over to Julia's blog to read explanations of these tips and access more best practices!

These examples are common mistakes made by nonprofits, but every organization is different. Trial and error is a process for any association, so make the most of your mistakes by learning from them.

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