nonprofit fundraising guide

The Guide to Developing a Complete Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy

You wouldn’t start off on a road trip without packing a map or checking your GPS, would you?


No, probably not. You shouldn’t start asking for donations without a solid strategy in place, either.


Fundraising, in all of its forms, requires planning and tracking. Whether you’re crowdfunding for your annual marathon, asking for major gifts from corporations, or practicing any fundraising method in between, a plan is crucial to your nonprofit’s success.


Luckily, there is no shortage of tips and tricks that your nonprofit can use to create a comprehensive fundraising strategy that will keep the donations coming in.

Take a look at the eight must-haves for developing a complete fundraising strategy.


1. Make sure everyone is on the same page.


Effective communication is key for any successful fundraising effort. It’s going to be difficult to raise money for your cause if your fundraisers, marketing team, and other departments aren’t on the same page.


To stay focused and on track, consider holding regular meetings and keeping your staff members up-to-date on fundraising progress. It’s also important to track your fundraising metrics and let your team know when you’ve reached a certain target.


Just like good communication is critical for grant writing success, effective dialogue is crucial for your fundraising efforts. Without it, your organization will be disorganized and scattered during your various campaigns and fundraising events.

2. Get your staff involved.


Just as communication with everyone about your fundraising strategy is important, it’s crucial to get everyone on your staff involved with your actual fundraising activities.


Think of it as leading by example. You wouldn’t expect your supporters to use your online donation form if your nonprofit’s staff didn’t know how to use it.


Fundraising by example not only results in more donations for your organization (your staff members are making contributions, after all), but it also increases the chance that more donors will give to your nonprofit.

3. Go online.


Gone are the days when organizations could raise money solely via mailed checks and cash donations.


In our technologically-saturated society, your organization can (and should!) ask for donations:


  • On your nonprofit’s website.
  • Via an emailed newsletter.
  • On Facebook.
  • Within a tweet on Twitter.
  • And through other channels!


When you take your fundraising efforts online, you are able to reach those donors who may not like to write out checks or give over the phone. You’re meeting them where they are, whether on Facebook or on Twitter or in their inboxes, which is an essential fundraising tactic for any organization.

4. Go mobile.


In addition to going online, your organization should also consider taking your fundraising strategies to mobile devices.


With technology like mobile responsive donation pages and text-to-give platforms, your nonprofit will be able to collect donations on the go and appeal to donors who never leave their homes without their smartphones or tablets.

5. Say thank you more than once.


One of the biggest components of having a complete fundraising strategy is being grateful. Just like you would thank your grant funders in order to build positive relationships in the future, you should also say thank you to your donors.


But that doesn’t mean you just send them an email and assume that that covers it.


It means that you follow up a couple months later to say thank you again, and it also means that you should acknowledge donors’ previous contributions when you make another donation appeal.


Whenever a supporter makes a contribution, your organization should immediately thank them for their gift. Donors are more likely to make a second gift if your nonprofit properly stewards them after their initial donation.

6. Make use of prospect research.


Prospect research is a tool used by nonprofits to help them find hidden major gift donors. By comparing their own records to those of various charitable giving databases, organizations can identify those donors who have both the willingness and capability of donating a substantial amount of money.


Prospect research can help your organization find hidden major gift donors in your database, but it can also help you clean up your existing records for all of your donors.


For instance, if you send out direct mail appeals, you would want all of them to go to the correct addresses, right?


With prospect research, you can help ensure that more of your appeals get to the right addresses and with the correct names written on the envelopes. Good prospect research will help you prevent making small mistakes like using the wrong name or title (Mrs. vs. Ms., for example), using the donor’s preferred name or nickname, and other small mistakes that could alienate your donors.


7. Transform your advocates into donors.


Your nonprofit’s advocates are the people who care the most about your cause. Whether they’re getting signatures for a petition, attending a rally, or speaking at events, they’re the people who are the most dedicated to helping your organization succeed.


Turning that mountain of physical support into monetary support can be an important fundraising tactic.


Granted, some of your advocates may be perfectly content with getting out in the world and doing the work themselves, and you should be careful not to push away advocates if they’re not willing or able to donate financially. But many of your advocates might see donating as another way to champion your cause — you’ll never know until you ask.


8. Start hosting smarter fundraising events.


Everyone likes attending a great fundraiser. They can be powerful opportunities for your organization to raise more money while your donors get a chance to interact with each other and with your team one-on-one.


But fundraisers can quickly devolve into logistical and budgetary nightmares if they aren’t done correctly.


Hosting a smart fundraiser means:


  1. Being creative. Don’t just host a typical fundraiser that has been done a million times over.
  2. Offering different ways to give. Not everyone will want to give cash donations or write a check. Make sure you have various options to suit every preference.
  3. Getting the word out. People won’t know about your event if you don’t tell them! Market your fundraising event via all of your regular communication channels.


You may find that certain strategies work better for different fundraisers. Your donors may prefer active fundraisers like marathons to more formal ones such as galas and dinners. Determine what works best for your organization and plan accordingly.




While there are countless other fundraising strategies that your nonprofit can employ to raise more money from your donors and prospects, these eight tips are good tactics to use to get you started. Happy fundraising!
Contributed by Abby Jarvis at Qgiv:

Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

The Guide to Developing a Complete Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy was last modified: by

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