I’m sure you’ve heard countless dos and don’ts of fundraising, and perhaps some of those align your organization’s practices. Additionally, most organizations have a decent handle on what their donors care about and what their giving tendencies are like based on data (if you’re thinking, “Yikes, not me!” read this). 

And then there are myths. 

Here are a few of the most common fundraising myths, debunked.  

1. Millennials don’t give as much, let’s focus elsewhere. 
In fact, more millennials are more inclined to donate, according to this research studythan other generations. Their one-time donations may not be as large, but they are willing to give (time and money) and they’re your future donor base –– don’t exclude them! 

2. Social media is the only online exposure you need.
Nope. Social media presence is not a myth, it’s a must but call your local papers and radio. Get features written about your organization in regional magazines. Send representatives to town meetings. Post flyers at businesses that support your mission that state how others can give or get involved. 

3. People don’t feel comfortable giving online. 
They do, and for smaller donations, giving online is preferred. Of course, you always want to accept checks or fund transfers, but it’s also critical to keep a donation button active on your organization’s website and social media. Millennials give more online than other generations. 

4. We shouldn’t ask people for more than one donation in a year.
Donors give 4-10 times in one year to organizations they support, according to our research. You should definitely ask them, multiple times, for contributions! Or, encourage them to enroll in monthly giving. 

5. No one responds to direct mail anymore.
While written responses aren’t what they used to be, people still read the mail and are likely to send in donations. It’s a good idea to survey donors to see if they prefer direct mail or email. This will help you cut costs, have more effective communication, and save paper. 

6. Donors are over silent auctions.
When it comes to fundraising elements at events, silent and live auctions still rank high, despite the recent myth that they’re fading out. Donors like activities that are fun, engaging, and competitive. Donors also like games of chance, like wine pulls and raffles. 

7. People read their emails.
Okay, maybe not the biggest myth we’ve heard, but it’s more important to build in-person networks when you want to build your guest list for your next big event. Donors are more likely to attend an event that someone tells them about instead of what’s in their inbox. 

Love data? We have more where that came from.


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Brandon Stec is the Director of Marketing at GiveSmart and an Indiana University graduate who's worked across sports and tech over the last decade. Brandon has sat on several boards of Nonprofits in Chicago and Kansas City. He resides in Chicago with his wife, son, and dog, Mango, and is a published author.
Brandon Stec