For non-profit newsletters, annual reports, solicitations, and presentations, check your work against these critical mistakes to avoid: The Fundraising Top 10… To Avoid!

  • 10. Promoting activity instead of achievements – Your supporters care most about how you’re fulfilling the mission of your organization. Focus on why you took on initiatives and the results you achieved. Be sure to communicate that you utilized funds to make a difference.
  • 9. Getting lost in the details – Write about what’s important to your audience, not what’s meaningful to your operations or staff. That new phone system you added makes things easier around the office, but your readers really aren’t concerned about it. They want to know how you’re delivering on your promises.
  • 8. Over-discussing fundraising – Development is essential to your long-term survival, and your supporters understand that. Spend the majority of your commentary space sharing the stewardship you exhibited with the dollars generated.
  • 7. Too much text, too few graphics – You might as well accept it: Most people won’t actually take the time to read your entire newsletter or annual report. Express your success in pictures, graphs and tables – you’ll make a much bigger impact in this message-a-second world.
  • 6. Failing to identify – Since you’ll be using more pictures and graphics, be sure to write informative captions that celebrate your mission accomplishments and identify people. Design your newsletter or report so that if someone never read the copy they would still understand the great things you achieved.
  • 5. Stating facts while forgetting the human element – People like to read people stories. Show the personal side of your accomplishments by sharing how you helped specific individuals and by celebrating volunteers. Make an impact by connecting with the hearts of your supporters.
  • 4. Writing an accounting book – Few readers of your report have their CPA, so be sure to include simple explanations with your financial statements. Explain your fundraising strategy, where donations came from, and how you utilized the money.
  • 3. Skipping spellchecker – First, make sure you know the correct spellings of listed supporters, foundations and government agencies that contributed or provided grants. Second, proof, proof, and proof again. Third, select more eyes to look over the entire document. The same goes for your mailing list.
  • 2. Asking for money without explaining the need – Explain why the money is needed, what you will be able to do with the money, and what happens if the money is not raised.
  • 1. Omitting help information – After engaging and exciting contributors with an informative piece, let them know how to donate their time, treasure and talent. Also, think through how to make contributing easier, and let everyone know about it.

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