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Monday, January 22, 2018

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Common mistakes fundraisers make Bait and switch
Michael Bacon

November, 2010

“Bait and Switch.”  In the example I cited at an AFP-San Antonio meeting recently, I highlighted a real life example of a bait and switch phone call when a fundraiser promised, “We won’t be asking you for a gift” when, indeed, after the appointment was made, the nonprofit representative did, in fact, ask for a significant gift.   As professionals, it is essential that we represent our organizations with ethics and tact.  Telling a donor you won’t be asking for a gift when your whole goal is to get in the door and ask for a gift is duplicitous.  Instead, be upfront with the prospect and tell her that you’d like an appointment to tell her about your organization and how she might be interested in playing a role in its success.  Then, after you’ve built a relationship with that prospect, and the time is right, that’s when it would be appropriate to ask for the gift.

Another example of “bait and switch” occurred when a local philanthropist was asked to “stop by our board meeting and see what we’re all about” and we he did, was asked immediately to join the nonprofit’s board of directors.  Talk about putting someone on the spot!  This clearly is not how to effectively cultivate and groom a prospective board member.

One more “bait and switch” example I cited occurred when a nonprofit invited a donor to its gala, but then told her when she arrived at the exhibit hall that she could not enter because the space was “reserved for VIPs.”  Uh oh.  Inviting a donor to your event and then treating her poorly will have dire consequences when asking for future gifts.   Professional fundraisers must ensure that the “care and feeding” of top donors be of utmost importance throughout your organization.

Do you have other “mistakes” to share (anonymously, of course)?  Let us hear from you! Contact Michael Bacon at


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