Why Some Fundraisers Fail

Why Some Fundraisers Fail

You have a lot riding on your fundraisers, so you can’t afford to let them fail. See below for some of the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them with your future fundraiser.

 Unrealistic Goal Setting

The number one reason groups deem their fundraiser a flop is falling short on their goal. To set yourself up for success, you have to do some math:


With the amount of profit each participant needs to generate, you can now find a program with the per sale profit needed to attain those goals. If the per participant goal still seems like a stretch, you can (1) lower the total fundraising goal and plan for a subsequent fundraiser (2) find another program with higher profits (3) try to recruit more participants.


The reality is that most fundraising coordinators are volunteers with other family and work responsibilities, and a lot of times, not experienced in running fundraisers. That’s why it’s helpful to recruit a team to support the fundraising coordinator with roles like:

  • The Consultant – ask someone who has run fundraisers for your school or team before to act as consultant – someone to review your timeline and implementation plan and guide you with other suggestions.
  • The Treasurer – select someone who’s good with the numbers and has insight on the group’s financial needs, so together you can set a realistic goal and have someone to juggle the money coming in.
  • The Cheerleaders – find a couple parents who believe in why you are fundraising and are willing to help promote the fundraiser from beginning to end. Responsibilities like putting up posters, passing out flyers and doing social media posts can really help.
  • Heavy Lifters – If the program requires sorting and distribution, you need a couple volunteers willing to dig in and do some grunt work to finish up the fundraiser. Or you can run an Express Program and it’s just sell cards, collect money and you’re done, so you don’t need any back-end help!

Low Participation

As outlined above, the success of your fundraiser largely depends on the number of participants and the amount of profit each participant can bring in. To tip both numbers in your favor, consider:

  • Making it simple – the more straightforward the program, the more confident participants will be in reaching their goal, therefore the more participants who will try and likely succeed.
  • Having a communication schedule – fundraising is just one more extracurricular for many families, so to encourage active participation – i.e. sticking with it until the end – you need to stay top-of-mind with countdowns and status updates on reaching your goal.
  • Incentivizing – help encourage participants to get involved and reach their individual goals by creating both group incentives, e.g. a pizza and movie party, and individual incentives, e.g. keeping the sample Full-Image® Tumblers with Dynamic Drinkware Fundraising programs.

 Lack of Support from the Community

You can do everything right with your participants and your fundraiser will still fail if you can’t get your community behind you. That’s why you need to (1) make sure participants can communicate why you’re fundraising. Even if it’s for a “general fund”, you can still have them sight some specific needs. (2) You have to consider “fundraising fatigue” and pick a program that is not over-sold in your area. A household can only have so much cookie dough and candles! (3) Lastly, consider a program that allows you to generate sales online, so you can gain support from friends and family outside of your community!

For more helpful tips on this topic and running a successful fundraiser, check out this article from Effective Fundraising Solutions.

Ryan Dailey