Yes, it’s well intentioned. Yes, like many professions, people assume fundraising is easier than it actually is. And yes, it’s head-shakingly-funny some of the suggestions people make to fundraisers about how to do their jobs. Here’s a few of the funniest, unfortunately too common, suggestions people make to nonprofit development teams on how to improve fundraising or how to raise money for a campaign.

Just find a major donor to do a match.

“Oh man, our air conditioner just went on the fritz. It’s going to cost $12,000 to get it back up and working. Better call a major donor who has an HVAC affinity.” Many people assume that major donors are an ATM machine. They believe the major donor reps can simply pick up the phone at any time, call a major donor and say, “hey, we’d really like to help a lot of people on this project, will you match donations for it?” It makes sense on the surface, but, if the major donor reps had this in their back pocket, why have they not already called and asked for a matching campaign? Yes, many major donors have an affinity for a certain type of work a nonprofit does and only wants to give to certain projects. Most likely, it’s not going to be the campaign you’re currently working on. A close match to this is …

Can’t we just call a Foundation for this project?

“Hey, somebody get Bill & Melinda Gates on the phone, they’ll want to fund this one!” Foundation fundraising is a time consuming process with applications, presentations, and lots of relationship building. Foundations don’t take phone calls and write you a check. They research the organization. They want details on the project. They want to build a relationship with the people at the nonprofit. They don’t take walk-ins.

Have you ever heard of peer to peer fundraising?

Yes we have. And yes, we’re doing/exploring/tinkering/deploying it. Peer to peer is an excellent fundraising tool and for some organizations, it is the number one channel for fundraising. But it isn’t a magic fundraising button that generates thousands of donors at will.

If you explained the facts to someone, they’re going to give! You’re too emotional in your fundraising.

If people only understood that millions of people are going to bed hungry, they’d give you more money! It’s not for a lack of facts. People don’t give to statistics, they give to someone in need. Tell a great story and people will give.

Raise the money in social media. Can’t you create a viral post or something?

Man, I wish we had thought of that idea! A viral post! That’s genius. We should create more of those. Perhaps we should encourage people to dump ice on their heads?

Nonprofit Fundraising doesn’t happen by luck. It’s a skill learned over many years of failure and successes. It has it’s own rules, art, and science.