Launching a fundraising campaign can be exciting… and extremely nerve-wracking.

If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, you feel the urgency of building support for your mission. Maybe that urgency is also fueled by the need to meet or outperform previous campaigns, recover from a less-than-stellar year-end campaign, or reach a looming fiscal year-end goal.

At the same time, you know your success depends on genuinely engaging your donors, winning their support, and attracting new audiences. 

If you’ve struggled with failed fundraising campaigns in the past, you’re not alone. 

Here are the top 3 reasons why so many mid-year and year-end campaigns fail—and how to get a jumpstart on fixing them.

1. You’re not engaging donors

People want to feel. 

If your fundraising campaign fails to engage donors on an emotional level, they’ll move on and forget about you. 

But if you create a genuine, authentic emotional experience, you’ll capture hearts, inspire action, and create an impression they’ll remember.

Here are a handful of common fundraising traps that keep you from creating an emotional connection with donors:

  • Lack of storytelling – A compelling story is your best tool for evoking emotions, making your cause relatable, and bringing it close to home. 
  • Overemphasis on statistics – There’s a good place for stats, but don’t rely on them. Cultivate empathy with stories first, then use stats as supporting characters.
  • Weak visual content – Lack of compelling visuals or using low-quality images makes it hard for donors to visualize the impact of their giving. 

The Fix 

Use emotionally stirring, personal accounts that draw out your audience’s empathy. 

Support these stories with well-placed statistics and strong visual content. 

By connecting your donors to the real people and stories behind your mission, you’ll help them feel part of a meaningful community that’s changing the world.

2. Your communication is underdelivering

Every nonprofit leader knows how to write and communicate clearly. 

But executing a strategy designed to win hearts and open wallets? That’s not quite as straightforward.

Your fundraising strategy needs to articulate several key things:

  • Impact – Demonstrate how your nonprofit is making a difference and moving in the right direction.
  • Need – Show how much more work still needs to be done. Highlight the gap between the world’s current state and the vision your nonprofit is working toward.
  • Invitation – Give your audience a reason to partner with your nonprofit. Offer a compelling call to action that’s tied to impact.

The Fix 

Be sure you’re getting a healthy head start on your upcoming fundraising campaign. Bring together your best thinkers to craft a compelling campaign message that will excite and pull your audience in as co-laborers in your mission.

Review past campaigns and look for what worked and what didn’t. Use data to inform your new approach.

Make sure your strategy involves communicating consistently across various channels—such as email, social media, and direct mail—to expand your reach to more potential donors.

3. Your donors feel used

Donors want to feel appreciated and valued for their contributions. 

Remember that many people who donate to your nonprofit give from a modest income. Regardless of their giving capacity, however, every donor wants to be thanked. 

Expressing gratitude and sharing the impact of each person’s gift will cultivate a loyal donor base that trusts your nonprofit and feels a strong sense of mutual rapport.

The Fix 

Thank your donors today. 

Before you send any new communications asking people to give, make sure each donor hears your gratitude. Make phone calls, write thank you cards, or simply send a personalized email campaign. Don’t use this as an opportunity to ask for a new gift. Keep the focus on thanking.

Going forward, incorporate regular expressions of gratitude into your fundraising calendar. Include updates on progress made and the impact of their donations. This assures donors that their gifts, no matter the size, are making a difference.

Wrap Up

Engage your audience through emotional connection.

Craft a clear message.

Thank your donors.

With these strategies in place, you’ll be well on your way to not only meeting your fundraising goals but exceeding them—so that, together, you and your donors will create a more lasting, positive change in the world.