nonprofit fundraising2015 was a great year for fundraising. Over $373.25 billion was given to charity. And, 25 percent of the U.S. population volunteered for charitable work from September 2014 to September 2015.

So, why is it that a lot of nonprofits, schools, churches and others have it so hard in raising money for their groups? Ask any fundraiser or CEO and he or she will tell you that fundraising is one of the most difficult parts of their work, but crucial for sustainability.

What Makes Raising Money So Challenging?

Every day, my team and I speak to hundreds of nonprofits, schools and charitable organizations. That gives us an excellent opportunity to have a broad view of what’s happening in the sector. What follows are some reasons we’ve discovered in conversations about the challenges of raising money. This list is by no means exhaustive and I’m sure your group may have others to add.

  • Some groups don’t adequately communicate their story. Donors and supporters don’t get the chance to understand why funds are needed or how the money donated is going to be used.
  • Many donors, particular Boomers and Generation X support multiple organizations. They are giving money to the schools their children attend or the youth groups of their grandkids. Additionally, there are so many good causes (many doing the same thing).
  • Champions and donors don’t have a good enough sense of the work and the impact done by many organizations. People want to understand that if they financially support a charity, they will be making a difference and many groups don’t convey the quantitative impact of their work.
  • We live in a busy world. Nonprofits are afraid to ask. As unbelievable as that may seem, many organizations will make one ask and then think if they go back and try again, they are being too pushy. You don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • On the flip side of the coin, many donors are tired of giving money to organizations because they have the perception (valid or not) that they’re always being asked for money. They would like to support their favorite causes in other ways as well.
  • Some leaders lack vision. That’s the reality. And when there’s no vision of where an organization is going, team members and donors can’t make the connection between where the nonprofit is today and where it will be tomorrow.
  • Donors have unrealistic expectations about the “overhead myth.” Many seem to believe that nonprofits can magically run with no or at minimal cost. Payment for the lights, computers and salaries have to come from somewhere.

Ways to Overcome the Difficulty in Fundraising

Organizations that are able to raise money do so because they have a plan. They learn from their successes and failures. They are consistent, and they also understand that fundraising is not only about raising money; it’s about building and maintaining relationships.

  • When you plan your fundraisers, you should have a plan for the year and also for each individual fundraiser. And, once you begin to execute the plan, stay with it.
  • As I mentioned above, fundraising is not only about asking money. It’s about updating your supporters and it’s about asking for advice. You want to create a relationship. And when you do seek to raise funds, do it in a way that is not always in the same old boring way.
  • Ask your supporters to help you spread awareness about your organization and raise money. Often groups will ask their champions for financial support, but fail to remind them that they need to get others on board as well. Remember that your database is in constant change and a certain percentage of donors will not give to you again.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to Dominate Your Fundraising to Create Your Success” (Free Digital Download)

© 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.