8 Fundraising Mistakes Made Online (and How to Avoid Them)

woman holding two gold coins up to her eyes

The key to avoiding common fundraising mistakes is to stay one step ahead at all times. But first, you’ll want to know what they are! ☆ It’s no secret that online fundraisers succeed or fail based on the impact they make with their audience. While that impact is typically measured in clicks and impressions, it’s important to remember that real people – with real expectations – are poking around in your content. Every opportunity to be viewed online by a potential donor is a golden moment. It can mean the difference between a sizeable donation or a big fat zero in the funds column of your online campaign. 

jar full of coins
Another fundraising mistake to avoid? Not realizing that every little bit helps!

So how do we make sure that every click and every connection has a reasonable chance of converting from a casual look into a successful contribution? To start, we want to avoid some of the most common fundraising mistakes. Sure, they’re easy to make—but they’re even easier to prevent. If you take the time to review your content and check for these possible errors and missed opportunities, you’ll be able to launch a fundraising campaign that is polished, professional, and (most importantly) successful.

8 common fundraising mistakes made online

1. Bad grammar and spelling errors

There’s just no reason to post online content with bad grammar, and that goes double for spelling! Whether you write your initial copy in Word, Pages, gDocs, or something else, be sure to pay attention to those green, blue, orange, and red squiggles that pop up under your words. It turns out that all of those criteria from Freshman Comp really do matter, from mechanics to word usage, so be sure to double-check your work. This will help you prevent one of the most common fundraising mistakes!

How to avoid this mistake: Here’s a helpful hint—read your content out loud to yourself. If you try to read a sentence aloud and run out of breath before it’s over, it’s a run-on and it should be edited or clipped. Another solution would be to check for passive voice; replace the trouble spots you identify with something more active and high-impact. Here’s a helpful resource to guide you!

2. Content that loses the reader

Grammar and spelling are only part of the story. Another big consideration is the way your writing flows (or doesn’t!). You might already be thinking about how easy or difficult your writing is to understand, but are you equally thoughtful about how easy or difficult your writing is to read? By this, we mean things like its level of sophistication, word choice, consistency, and even its appeal to your target audience or demographic. If you’re writing for anyone other than your ideal funder or donor, you’re wasting time—and you’re also making one of the more common fundraising mistakes!

How to avoid this mistake: You can check your work (freely, easily, and reliably) with a variety of tools that will help you measure for readability. These kinds of reports are based on algorithms that measure your writing using mathematical equations. They can’t really factor the pizzazz (that’s still on you!), but they will give you a clear sense of whether or not your story is built well.

3. Forgetting to include photos or images

person holding out fan of twenty dollar bills
People love visual aids. Kiiiinda like this, in fact.

It’s a cliché, for sure, but you know the saying—a picture is worth a thousand words. So, make sure you add some visuals into your fundraising campaigns to prevent fundraising mistakes! Not only do images attract views, a well-placed image can add tremendous impact to the power of your campaign. If you’re planning to go abroad to volunteer with pandas in China, think about the appeal of a text-based campaign without images, compared to a campaign that includes some well-positioned shots of pandas munching on bamboo. Using images can make the opportunity and experience feel more real.

How to avoid this mistake: Select images that are personalized to your cause, but make sure you’re able to use them and post them without violating copyright issues. The images you want to look for will be high-impact, and available for free (and fair!) use in your campaign. There are all kinds of sites claiming to offer free use, but many of them have specific rules (even Google) so make sure you review the requirements before you post that photo, just to be safe!

4. Not posting shareable links for social media

When you build your campaign, you should think about your ability to share it as widely as possible, but you also want to think about how you can make it easier for others to share your campaign in their networks. If you’re trying to avoid fundraising mistakes, you will include links to readily share your campaign to all the big social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Insta, etc.), but also try to make it simple enough for your readers, donors, and general supporters to quickly share your message with others via email. The easier you make it for others, the more inclined they’ll be to help!

How to avoid this mistake: You don’t need to be a computer programmer or web expert to make this easy to do. In fact, there are (free!) resources all over the web with tips and tricks to help you increase social media shares, encourage click-throughs, and inspire others to help you spread your message. With fundraising campaigns, the more you share, the more you stand to earn, so don’t let fundraising mistakes like this one get in the way of your success.

5. Not providing enough detail about how the money will be used

Sometimes, the donation request is buried under too many generalities. People who make these kinds of common fundraising mistakes will say things like, “Your donation will help me live my dreams” or “I’d love your help in meeting my goals” but the specific dream or goal is not clear enough for the donor to feel like they’re contributing to something truly meaningful. It’s difficult to be inspired by something that doesn’t connect through details, so make sure you include them!

How to avoid this mistake: When you build your campaign, think about the donor. What do you need to tell them in order to get them to truly connect with your cause? Remember that everyone loves a good story. If you share details about your fundraising in a way that inspires your potential donor to feel like they’re part of the story, they will feel even more inspired to support you. Here’s some great advice from the talented folks at Pixar to help you make that story come to life!

a tip jar that says “pay as you wish”
You don’t have to be pushy or overbearing about it. Just don’t forget to ask!

6. Not remembering to actually ask for the money

You definitely want to focus on including the right details, checking for grammar and tone, and using the proper images, but remember to ask for the money! In order to avoid this fundraising mistake, make sure you present the donation request in clear and simple language. Yes, it’s super important to talk about how it’s been your dream to teach kids to surf for years—and engaging your storytelling skill is absolutely key—but if you don’t make it clear that you’re looking for financial support, potential donors might just read of your adventures and simply move on.

How to avoid this mistake: When it comes to asking for money, remember to be clear and courteous. And, don’t forget to consult the experts for some good ideas about how to make that request in a way that connects. FundMyTravel.com has some great resources for you, including a free toolkit that includes all kinds of suggestions about how to directly ask your donors for their contributions. Remember that people generally want to help others, so make it clear you’re asking for support!

7. Failing to inspire a sense of urgency

It’s happened to everyone. You receive a request to take some kind of action and you intend to follow up and you save it for later…until it’s too late. Don’t let that happen to your fundraising campaign! If you’re trying to raise money to go on a summer safari and it’s now the beginning of the new year, put some heat behind your campaign. Let your donors know that you will be spending the next few months preparing, and remind them that you need their support now in order to achieve your goals. Let them know that you need their contributions today so that you can take the next steps you need tomorrow.

How to Avoid this Mistake: Getting donations on your campaign requires a lot of the same skills as successfully achieving other goals. One useful tip is to think about using the SMART approach in all of your fundraising content. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Luckily, you can use some of the tools that exist to help you plan a time-bound strategy!

8. Not using FundMyTravel ? 

If you really want to maximize the impact of your efforts and avoid fundraising mistakes, partner with the folks at FundMyTravel to host your campaign on the FundMyTravel platform. With a dedicated travel-focus, super-low fees, and all kinds of helpful tools, it’s the go-to resource for travelers seeking funds to support meaningful opportunities. Even better, you won’t get lost among other kinds of fundraising requests! You’ll benefit from other like-minded people having access to (and even sharing!) your content with their networks.

How to avoid this mistake: FundMyTravel makes it super easy to avoid common fundraising mistakes by setting you up for success from the very start! You can follow four simple steps to get started, and then use the resource toolkit to get your campaign ready for launch. There are helpful checklists, blog posts, and all kinds of other goodies to help you along the way. Whatever else you might do, be sure to check out FundMyTravel today!

Now you know how to avoid fundraising mistakes. Nice!

person holding out fan of bills in front of their face
Address your fundraising mistakes and get your campaign back on track!

With these eight tips in mind, you can see how easy it is to avoid the kinds of common fundraising mistakes that keep a good campaign from being really great! When it comes to preventing missed opportunities online, remember to put yourself in the position of your potential donor. What would YOU want to know if you were considering giving money to someone? Remember that the potential donor will want to help you if you make your need compelling enough.

Finally, fundraising mistakes don’t need to doom your campaign, even if it’s already posted or shared. You can always revive a dying campaign or spruce things up with a bit of a refresh. With an existing campaign, make sure you do a quick read-through for any of these common fundraising mistakes. If you spot any, you can make some quick modifications and get your campaign back on track for even more donations and support.

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andi sciaccaThis article was written by Andi Sciacca. Andi is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and their four-legged family. She works with inspired professionals who are expert practitioners, experienced educators, and well-known contributors to their field. Andi helps them take ideas and put them into practice. When not working or writing, she loves to experience music, see the world, and learn new things. Andi’s favorite places to travel include anywhere she can eat good food—and swim.

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