3 fundraising flops you'll never make again


Want to make sure your organization's financial resilience flourishes? Avoid these top three fundraising flops.👇🏾

We can help you sidestep key pitfalls in Spring's Financial Innovation and Resilience (FIRE) program, which supports changemakers to keep their fundraising approaches fresh and purposeful.

Get a taste of FIRE with these three flops and fixes to the most common fundraising mistakes we see. Our next program runs virtually in September. We offer sliding scale or pay-what-you-can rates!


🙅🏾  Flop #1: Working in silos

Pandas falling down a slide.

If silos are a problem at your organization, you are probably noticing communication roadblocks, a lack of transparency, challenges responding to emerging issues and a feeling of “stuckness”. These barriers leave organizations less resilient against future instability and keep a lot of creative ideas untapped. Breaking out of silos means changing the way your team works. Check out our fix below.


💁🏾 The fix: A fundraising “pivot team”

In FIRE, a “pivot team” typically comprises the executive director plus senior staff in finance, program, fundraising and communications. Your pivot team will collaborate across departments to develop a financial innovation and resilience plan; this helps overcome what experts call “immunity to change”—those old habits and mindsets that tend to hold people and organizations back from reaching their goals. (Feeling too busy to shake things up? Curious about “immunity to change”? We’ve got you covered). 


🙅🏾  Flop #2. Relying on just one source or sector

A girl falls interrupting the feeding of chickens

It can be tempting to keep all your eggs in one basket, especially when a key funding relationship is long-standing or your organization has only ever engaged in one type of fundraising. But diversifying the sources and sectors contributing to your work can yield unexpected benefits and act as a bulwark against shocks in this era of shrinking civic space and economic volatility.

💁🏾  The fix: Diversification

The magic is in the mix. Be intentional, realistic and imaginative to find the right mission-aligned funding diversification balance for your organization. Take these 5 steps to examine your donor dependence with fresh eyes:

  1. Fully understand your current income mix
  2. Be clear about your long-term vision 
  3. Create a baseline and monitor your progress
  4. Assess context: opportunities and challenges
  5. Understand what it takes to make changes (investment and expected returns, time, staff capacities)

Find inspiration with the FIRE journey of Indonesia’s Kota Kita, which reduced its dependence on a single donor from 72% to 38% in two years.


🙅🏾  Flop #3. Communicating with too much “Head”

A meerkat falls asleep and then is jolted awake, seeming to pay attention.

One of the biggest mistakes we see organizations make in their communications with potential funders is being all business all the time: listing off facts about context, research and impact without stopping to think about what information would be most meaningful for the people on the receiving end. In FIRE, we call this talking from (and to) the “Head”. It’s not a problem to do this, but it is a problem to do only this. 

💁🏾  Go with your “Gut” and follow your “Heart”

Humans are story creatures. We intuitively seek to belong, be understood and find agreement (“Gut”). Our emotions are essential to making memories and finding meaning (“Heart”). Take a moment to think about who you audience is and what they might need to feel seen, understood or in agreement. Then think about what stories about your work might emotionally resonate with them. Want to flex your storytelling muscles and break out of limiting frames? Check out our session and resources on radical imagination.



Registration for our September Financial Innovation and Resilience program (virtual) is now open!  


Post by Spring
July 8, 2024