In honor of Halloween, when we seek that thrill of tiny fingers on the back of the neck, here are some things that should scare the heck out of fundraisers:
Data problems. Bad data can kill your fundraising in the most gruesome and terrifying ways. You can end up talking to the wrong people, not talking to the right people, saying the wrong things to people -- all kinds of nightmarish things. Make sure your files are clean, complete, and accurate -- and that you're pulling what you think you are every time.
Cuts to the acquisition budget. When times are hard, it's hard to keep spending money on acquisition. It's an area where most of us lose money even in good times. When response drops, good luck. Thing is, when you cut acquisition, you slash the future. You guarantee that the hard times will last. If you stop acquisition for long enough, you can send your organization into a death-spiral.
Branding experts. These guys are the marauding, brain-eating zombies of the fundraising world. If they show up at your door, slam it. If they get in, run away. They are going to devour your fundraising program with their grand abstractions and faddish design. After the branding experts have come and gone, many organizations are stuck with a drop of up to 50% in fundraising revenue.
The boss loves it. This is a subtle and well-disguised threat. Don't we want the boss to love our work? When the boss thinks you've really captured what she wants to say, you have almost certainly mucked it up for your donors. It may not be a tenable move, but if the boss loves it, you should probably go back to the drawing board.