The Dark Side of Fundraising When You Don’t Have a Plan


Come stroll with me through The Dark Side.dark side

This is what happens when your organization doesn’t have the proper elements in place for fundraising.

There’s no way you can get good results from your fundraising strategies. (Don’t worry — I promise to lead you back to the light!)


Deep in the heart of The Dark Side is the Valley of Inconsistent Messages.

It’s a nice place to visit — because it’s sorta funky and offbeat. There are materials, brochures, web messages, appeal letters – all saying different things.

And they point you in many different directions. It’s an easy place to get lost in.

There’s no call to action! And there’s no exit sign. You really are lost!

In the Dark Side, nobody understands: 

How well you tell your story has EVERYTHING to do with how much money you raise!

This is the dark side of fundraising experience. 

Board involvement

Your board is really important. They make sure your organization is on the right fundraising path – or not!

egyptian statues

Is this your board?

But what if your board members stick their heads in the sand and refuse to look at the data?

It’s a sure sign of trouble when your board members:

  • poo-poo innovation in the name of tradition
  • don’t support your organization enough to be (major) donors themselves
  • insert their own “fundraising idea of the month” and distract you from the real work

Nobody understands:

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Find out how we can help you achieve your fundraising goals with world-class consulting and custom training.

You are heading for the Dark when leaders say, “Forget the professional practices, we want to run fundraising based on our own personal opinions and preferences.”

This is the dark side of fundraising experience: When your board members want to throw a party?

Fundraising Budget

When the denizens of The Dark Side get together for a little fun, one of their favorite parlor games is called “Raising More Money Without Spending More Money.”

The goal is to up your fundraising goals without investing in proper resources for staffing, infrastructure, materials, expertise etc.

The prize is a big ol’ cup of frustration and fundraising shortfalls.

Do you have to beg for resources?

Do you have to beg for resources?

Nobody understands:

If you invest more money in your fundraising program, you’ll raise so very much more money.

Internal Culture of Philanthropy

When you visit the Dark Side, you’ll find organizations that give lip service to fundraising.

But really, underneath it all, most of the staff and leaders of your organization think fundraising is “dirty work.”

They foist responsibility for fundraising on a few beleaguered staffers, while bad-mouthing raising money behind the scenes.

Nobody understands:

When the entire organization embraces donors and philanthropy as vitally important, then revenue zooms up.


Do you hear that quiet crumbling sound?

That’s a potential donor fleeing your web site because she had to fight her way through a long, intimidating donation page.

The longer it takes to close the transaction, the closer you get to falling through into The Dark Side.

(Note: There’s a special zip tube to The Dark Side for organizations that make people print and mail a donation form along with a check.)

Nobody understands:

That you need to make your online donation process fast, easy and simple.


One particularly creepy corner of the Dark Side is filled with darn good fundraisers whose talent and intentions are overlooked or stymied by leadership.

It’s a scary place that just reeks of frustration, when your bosses:

  • Set fundraising goals that are completely unrealistic.
  • Pile additional duties on fundraisers that take them AWAY from fundraising.

Nobody understands:

True leadership means trusting people, and giving them the tools and freedom they need to get the job done.


That CRM system that nobody knows how to operate?

The bulky, expensive data base that takes forever to pull reports from?

It’s killing your fundraising.

Inefficiency is the fuel that keeps the keeps The Dark Side — well — dark.

Nobody understands:

Infrastructure is the key to creating a well-oiled fundraising machine for your nonprofit.

Social Media

Your boss just told you to come up with a way to raise a million dollars on “the Facebook” next year. #yourescrewed #DarkSideproblems

Or the Board from the Dark Side thinks you can just pull off a major crowdfunding campaign using dated messaging and technology.

Nobody understands:

Crowdfunding success requires tons of online supporters and rabid volunteers who will spread the word.


Unless your fundraising team is well staffed and managed, your donors probably aren’t being treated as well as they should be — that, my friend, is the darkest of the dark, and reason enough to get your stuff together.

And a lack of basic fundraising skills among key development staff!


Nobody understands:

Investments in fundraising are important — especially when it comes to staff!



But I did promise to lead you back to the light. Here’s how.

Join me for two important workshops in August and I’ll help you create a Transformational Fundraising and Solicitation Plan for 2015-16 that will:

Dramatically increase profitability and revenue;

Expand your reach with new supporters;

Develop the infrastructure for long term sustainable fundraising cash flow;

The Dark Side of Fundraising is a scary place.

Pretty bleak, huh?

How about sharing your own experience?

What’s your Dark Side look like? :)

Leave a comment and let me know. Or email me privately and we can commiserate!