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Fundraising Friction – Ways to Reduce the Heat

dog enjoying a fan

Fundraising friction are all those ways that advancement offices, websites, development officers and campaign design make it harder for donors to make a contribution. Friction points are often overlooked and not seen for what they are.

One of the reasons Amazon is so successful is because they have made their user interface nearly friction-free. Giving them your money takes only one or two clicks. Easy peezy lemon squeezy.

Consider the Donor

My brother shared a story about his recent effort to contact his local community foundation to establish a donor advised fund. After two phone attempts without a return call, he went to the Fidelity Charitable Fund where he was able to set up his DAF in minutes.

If a donor wants to make a named gift to your organization, do you have a list of available recognition opportunities at the ready to show her? If a donor has a second house he is interested in gifting, do you have the necessary policies and protocols in place to make the process clear to the donor and staff who need to execute the gift?

Can Do Attitude

Having a “can do” attitude helps to reduce a lot of friction. I had a situation where a foundation I worked closely with wanted to give a $200,000 yearend gift, but the foundation could not give it directly to my organization because it was a passthrough research funder. The foundation was willing to give the funds directly to a local researcher that my organization supported and still owed $500,000 on a $1million grant. You would think the solution to give the $200,000 directly to the researcher in the name of my organization and reduce what we owed the researcher by $200,000 would be a slam-dunk. Unfortunately, there were no policies in place to address this increasingly common situation, and the organization’s CEO did not have a “can do” attitude and consumed valuable time deliberating. Fortunately, the board chair did not hesitate to approve the deal, as I knew he would.

The most common fundraising friction points are found on organization websites. Is it hard to find the “donate” button on the homepage? Is the site easy to read and navigate? Is the giving page straightforward and provide everything that is needed to easily make a gift? Is the phone number you provide answered by a human being who knows how to find answers to caller inquiries?

Donor Relationship Management

Finally, in the realm of major giving, I would argue that some of those extra cultivation “touches” are unnecessary friction points. Often, donors are ready to give sooner than when they are actually asked to give by a gift officer. This is opportunity cost friction, a liability that can be very costly when spread over all the active portfolios in your organization.


Your takes:

1. Create an inventory of every public and donor facing activity your office generates.

2. Examine each of the activities to be sure they are as friction-free as possible.

3. Go the extra mile and consider where you can eliminate or combine activities for even less friction.


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