Top 6 Fundraising Myths: Busted!

Guest post by Adam Weinger

If you’ve ever watched the hit show, Mythbusters, you know how misconceptions generally get shattered.

If you haven’t seen the show, here’s a rundown of how it typically goes:

  • The Mythbusters decide on a particular misconception or myth.
  • They spend part of the show concocting brilliant and crazy experiments to prove or disprove the myth.
  • They either bust the myth or find it to be true.

You’ve likely heard some fundraising tips thrown around that didn’t sound quite right. We’re going to take a look at some of the biggest fundraising myths and try to bust them! While we won’t be doing any of the crazy experiments that The Mythbusters conduct, we will leave you with some great ideas for fundraising for your nonprofit. And to learn more about fundraising through different channels, check out this article.

Get ready to bust six of the biggest fundraising myths out there!

Myth #1: Only young people use mobile giving.

Yes, millennials and teenagers always seem to be on their phones, but mobile giving isn’t a young person’s game by any means.

Donors of all ages are looking to solutions like mobile responsive donation pages and text giving.


Simply because mobile giving is easy.

It’s convenient.

It can even be fun.

Many of your donors are on their smartphones or tablets during the day anyway. If you can reach them where they are and encourage them to donate on their mobile devices, you’ve already disproved the myth that only young people are mobile givers!

Myth #2: You should give donors a lot of options on your online donation form.

Imagine you’re at an ice cream store. If the owner has laid out forty or more flavors, you could spend an hour tasting each one before finally deciding.

But if he only has chocolate or vanilla, the decision is easier to make.

The point I’m making is that it’s easy to commit to a single option if there are fewer choices.

Part of making an online donation experience beneficial for both the donor and nonprofit is limiting the options on your online donation page.

Online giving should be painless; the more options you give donors on your online donation form, the more likely they will be to get distracted or overwhelmed during the donation process.

Of course, there are components that you must include on your donation form:

  • Donor’s personal information (name, billing address, etc.)
  • Credit card number
  • Different giving levels
  • Security certification

Beyond these four essentials, your online donation form should be as simple as possible to increase the chances that donors make it all the way through the process.

Myth #3: Corporate philanthropy doesn’t matter.

This famous quote from the 1987 film Wall Street sums up how many people view corporations and businesses:

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”

While it’s true that the aim of corporations is to sell enough products and services to make a profit, it doesn’t mean that they can’t also exercise philanthropy.

In fact, many companies have corporate giving programs that reward employees who donate to and volunteer with nonprofits:

  • Matching gift programs
  • Volunteer grants
  • Automatic payroll deductions
  • Dollars for doers programs
  • And more!

Your nonprofit can and should pursue corporate philanthropy programs as a way to supplement your other fundraising initiatives.

In addition to the corporate giving programs mentioned above, companies also give to nonprofits through:

  • Monetary donations
  • Product-based donations
  • Service-based volunteer time
  • Challenge grants

Don’t ignore corporate philanthropy as a viable fundraising strategy.

Myth #4: Small nonprofits don’t need a major gifts strategy.

Major gifts are often the largest donations that a nonprofit will receive. Outside of a massive planned gift left to an organization in a will or bequest, major gifts are the key donations that can skyrocket a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts.

The problem is small nonprofits often don’t have the same comprehensive major gifts strategy that larger organizations have developed over the years.

They think they can’t go after major gifts.

They don’t have the resources that large nonprofits have.

Their existing donor pool is relatively small.

These small organizations can still pursue major gifts.

Admittedly, what classifies as a major gift for the American Red Cross is going to be different from a major gift at a nonprofit that has only been around for two years.

But, a small nonprofit can still develop a strategy for major giving:

  1. Appoint a major gifts officer or create a major gifts team.
  2. Conduct a prospect screening of your existing donors to discover potential major gift prospects.
  3. Develop a strong asking strategy that all of your fundraisers can easily implement.
  4. Create a major gift society to acknowledge and steward your major gift donors.

Don’t trick yourself into thinking that your small nonprofit can’t go after major gifts!

Myth #5: Advocates and volunteers can’t become donors.

Think about the people who are most committed to your organization.

They’re not random people.

Your advocates and volunteers are the ones who are dedicated to helping your nonprofit achieve its mission.

It’s a misconception that these committed supporters can’t become donors. Granted, some of your volunteers and advocates are going to be perfectly content supporting your nonprofit with their time and energy.

But that doesn’t mean that some of them wouldn’t enjoy donating monetarily.

Give your advocates and volunteers the option to give to your organization in other ways!

Myth #6: All Donors like to be communicated with in the same way.

Just because your great aunt enjoys receiving monthly letters from you doesn’t mean that your 10-year-old nephew is going to want the same correspondence.

As simple as it may seem, not all of your donors are going to like the same communication methods.

Some check their emails several times a day.

Some enjoy walking to their mailbox and receiving a letter or postcard.

Some are tweeting, posting, and liking social media content.

You shouldn’t spread yourself too thin, but it’s crucial to remember that no two donors are alike. Don’t communicate with them in the exact same ways. You’ll only end up isolating donors who don’t like how you’re reaching out to them.

How can you tell how donors like to be contacted?

  • Well, there is no exact science, but there are some general guidelines: Start with their donation method. Did someone send in a check? Did another donor give online? What about your phonathon participants? It’s not always a surefire indicator, but the ways in which people give generally indicate their preferred communication methods. Send letters to your check-mailers. Email your online donors. Call your phone donors.
  • Ask them! When collecting donations or speaking to donors directly, ask them for their preferred communication method. It may be more than one. This is an easy way to find out how your donors want to be contacted.

Remember to talk to your donors in different ways. You increase the chances that they’ll respond favorably when you meet them where they already are.


We’ve successfully busted some of the top six fundraising myths! Go out there and start raising money for your organization!

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.   

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