In order to inspire confidence and attract donors, there are certain mistakes and pitfalls nonprofits need to avoid. According to one estimate from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the U.S. With such a crowded playing field, it can be a challenge to create a network of donors that support your operations through volunteering and financial giving.

Therefore, when approaching a donor, it’s critical you avoid coming off as unprepared, impolite, unfocused, and uncertain of your ask. In addition, here are some things you need to avoid.

Avoid bad grammar and spelling

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression...and in the nonprofit world, it can pay to get it right! When you contact a donor, your spelling and grammar should be impeccable--avoid misspelling their names and have a few coworkers proof the communication before sending it. Otherwise, you might be written off by a donor before you even have a chance to ask for what you need.

Avoid asking too soon

Despite the digital nature of our world, relationships are more important than ever. Rather than hitting a potential donor with a request for time or money within minutes of meeting, focus on the individual’s interests and how it connects with what your nonprofit is doing in the world. Having patience and building a relationship with a donor could have the long term reward of recurring donations instead of a one-and-done give.

Avoid being underprepared

Never show up to a meeting with a potential donor without adequate preparation. Do the research and see if you can find out a donor’s charitable activity before approaching them. This will give you an estimate of the amount you might hope to receive from them. If you can’t obtain this information, avoid lowballing yourself; be bold and ask high.

Avoid being vague

When the time is right to solicit a donation, avoid asking the donor questions indirectly to deduce how much they would be comfortable contributing. Before your meeting with the donor, you should have done your research to find out their level of charitable engagement. Simplify life by telling the donor exactly how much money the nonprofit needs to implement a specific operation with a projected outcome. Do not put the onus on them to figure out how much to contribute.

Avoid burning bridges

If you don’t get the donation you want or even a donation at all, don’t write a donor off, especially if they are still interested in what’s going on with your nonprofit. Avoid closing the door on the relationship and making the mistake of not keeping them up to date with your organization. You didn’t secure a donation this time around, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a donor isn’t interested in giving to your cause. Check in on them periodically and work on your relationship. It could lead to a donation at a later date when they are more financially ready.

At Harness, we drive recurring donations.

Contact us if you’re interested in building a subscription program to better acquire, gratify, and upgrade recurring donors.