Creative LeadershipEngaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

Who’s Accountable for Your Fundraising Mistakes?

I received an email last year with an invitation to “Click Here” to receive a Thanksgiving e-Card from the leader of a major ministry. First, the email was so infantile it made me feel like a 13 year old, and second, the ministry was forcing me to do something to receive it. Neither option was interesting to me. Not to mention that I was supporting the ministry, not the leader. Then I remembered a friend telling me that she’d been receiving monthly fundraising letters from this ministry. Each month she writes on the envelope “Return to Sender” and every month they continue sending her letters – at who knows what cost to the ministry.

When ministries and nonprofit organizations get large and corporate, it becomes like the government. No one is accountable for the bottom line. No one gets fired. Nothing new happens to move the vision forward.

What about you? Sure we make mistakes. We try things that don’t work. That’s part of the creative process. But what’s the overall fundraising results over the last few years? If it’s not good, is someone feeling the heat?

Accountability matters in ministry. Don’t let personal relationships, loyalty, or long term employment cloud your vision when it comes to results. The stakes are too high. If things aren’t working, you need to act, and act now.


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  1. That is so true Phil. It’s the lack of attention to detail that hurts so many ministries, especially these days when it’s already a challenge to receive finances.

  2. Phil, in all fairness, most mail from non-profits is sent bulk rate. I do not believe the post office will honor a “return to sender” request on bulk mail (only on first-class stamped mail) – so it is likely that the ministry has never received this request from your friend. if she wants to be removed from the list, she should call them or send them a note, or even e-mail them with the request.

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