Non Profit Fundraising

Grayscale Photography of Group of People Wearing Volunteer-printed Shirt


Nonprofit fundraising is a complex topic and a crucial function. Nonprofits are in a special position from companies in that they can’t price their services and products to, well, make a profit. Operating budgets have to be conceived from different sources than program revenues.

This is a manual focused on fundraising for nonprofits. It will discuss the following important topics:

1. Crafting a nonprofit fundraising plan

2. Optimizing your organization


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Before we begin, here’s a brief background on financing.

How are nonprofits financed?

These classes make up the bulk of funds for nonprofits:

Investment Income – endowments compose a substantial part of income, particularly among foundations
Where do donations come from?
Personal contributions make up the greatest portion of non-program-related revenue streams for nonprofits.

While this represents massive potential, it attracts even more enormous challenges for nonprofits seeking to focus marketing and fundraising strategies on particular stations. The need for private touch with the majority of individual donors makes it difficult to scale financing strategies focused on individual donors.

Any successful initiative takes a plan. To optimize your business’s potential, it’s important to comprehend where you are now and define certain paths to where you will need to be in the future. A useful strategic plan for your fundraising function will offer a feeling of direction for your company and outline measurable goals to evaluate progress.


The first thing you need to do is produce an perfect version of your company. Leslie Allen from Front Range Source printed a Great guide on the subject where she suggests you ask yourself the following questions:

A little administrative work also needs to be carried out today… especially setting a budget for how much you would like to invest on this nonprofit fundraising plan and an implementation timeline that you would like to attain your goals by.


Describe your business as it is now. This will form the basis for which your plan will be implemented against.

You should take inventory of all of the various financing sources you currently use and have used previously. Try to rank and prioritize the efficacy and amount of funds raised from every one. Take notice of what’s worked before and what has not.

Just take an outside perspective if possible. If you can manage to audit your company, take action. Otherwise, be as impartial as possible in deciding how successful your company performs in this region, and compare it to other organizations. Use either current employees or colleagues from outside the organization to find a picture of the other nonprofits perform.

If you’re too overly funded by a particular source-let’s say a particular government grant that comes in every year and funds 90 percent of your budget-you have to tackle this. Like every business overly concentrated on a single customer, you face the danger of being shut down, should the authorities grant stop.

Make your company invulnerable to things you can not control.

3. Envision your future condition

Use the answers produced on your eyesight creation to help manage your future condition. Where the vision stage is all about producing conceptual ideals for what your company needs to look like, this stage should be about measuring them.

Decide exactly what you would like to concentrate on. If you decided that a concentrated nonprofit fundraising plan was the best way to go, be certain to document why it’s the best path and what the advantages of this choice is.

The end result of this stage should be a set of goals which you would like your organization to attain.


By quantifying your upcoming condition and documenting where you stand now, your next step is to carry out a gap analysis. It’s crucial to know where all the significant gaps are in your own organization.

In case you have 90% of your earnings coming from 1 government grant and your upcoming condition involves diversifying your revenue streams, then clearly here’s a significant difference in your strategy.

Always know your company’s vulnerabilities. Prioritize what you believe are the most critical gaps and areas that could create the most impactful change if they’re closed.


The last step requires determining precisely what activities will need to be done in order to achieve your desired state.

Divide the aims into key initiatives. You should ideally produce a list of projects which may be implemented on, each with various positions for cost, effort, time, and impact.

Create a matrix which assesses each project against these four dimensions and position the projects based on your priorities. If your strategy has to be completed quickly with less respect to price, then position jobs requiring less time higher. If you want the largest impact of your initiatives, then rank these ones greater, with the knowledge it may take longer and cost more than other projects.

Always understand the project management triangle of price . time. Any tactical decision will be based on these three limitations. Any change to a single constraint requires a change in others. Or quality suffers.

Make certain to get all the proper stakeholders involved in this priority setting process to be certain that your strategic alignment matches your organization’s vision and your board’s idea of what has to be done.

Optimize your company for change

A frequent mistake among nonprofits is the absence of one person who manages the whole “money function” of their organization. It is not sufficient to have an individual that oversees only government contracts, or just individual donors – you absolutely have to have someone who manages all money flows to the organization.

Development manager office

To make certain you employ or promote from within the perfect candidate for your job, you need to have the ability to supply enough of a salary to lure a person to remain and grow the business.

It could be painful trying to think of the money to pay somebody to do this job-which is typically lower than executive director or other high heeled positions on your organization-but it is well worth it.

You’re paying for men and women who spend 100 percent of the time focused on cash. And in a few years’ time, they need to be paying their own wages with the work they have done to boost your company’s capacity.

Construct a business environment that permits development.

Beyond just financing the salary of your rock-star fundraiser, it’s important to provide this person authority over developing a team and office in your organization. By choosing the ideal person, you can make sure that they know precisely how many staff they need and what functions they will need to hire to do certain tasks (marketing plans, technology updates, cold calling, etc.).

Additionally, you have to budget for costs like software, computer updates, marketing collateral, association dues, professional development, etc.

You wish to create an environment that permits development success. This way, you help retain top talent that can executive on longer-term strategies having the maximum potential for organizational expansion.

Bottom line – you would like to hire the perfect person who will help grow your business. They need the capacity to propose and decide on a budget and to executive on their plans.

Use unpaid support to support your efforts in reaching out to individuals. Especially for associations with slim budgets and staff, this may be an effective instrument. Tap into your alumni pool and other partners/alliances you might have formed before.

Your board of trustees ultimately sets the vision and direction for your organization. Because of this, we will need to spend some substantial time making sure everybody is aligned with what we’re trying to achieve with fundraising.

The use of the board typically changes depending on the size of the organization-smaller organizations have board members who typically take a more operational and hands on strategy, while larger organizations might have board members more focused on governance difficulties.

Irrespective of the size of your nonprofit, it’s critical to be sure everyone understands the value of philanthropy and can agree on a high level strategy for accomplishing the mission.

Beyond agreeing on plans, this may be a very valuable task in helping to raise and retain donors. By way of example, a very simple thank-you goes a long way. A fundraising study conducted by Cygnus discovered that when donors obtained a thank-you telephone from board members in days of making a present:

Their clout alone brings great respect to the men and women who contribute to the organization.
As important as engaging board members with donors, is keeping donors participated in the plan. Present strategy suggestions and work in their own feedback.

The board should understand that fundraising is staff driven and introducing a simple projection of expected expenses and earnings with a plan can go a long way in helping drive change.

Above all – realize when you have great board members and do whatever you can to keep them. Their connections and knowledge go a long way toward helping push your plan, so understand what you have while you’ve got it and do not risk losing great board members to greener pastures.

Measuring and communication impact

After board and staff considerations, the next major item to get ready for is impact dimension. You will need to have the ability to convey your story with numbers and words.

Nonprofit fundraising is significantly more than asking for contributions. It features everything before and following this step… from trying to find fans to expressing gratitude and measuring impact.

Be certain that you have the systems in place to capture the outcomes of your programs’ efforts. (Note: systems do not have to be complex… they can simply be procedures used to record results of actions.)
Use your mission to ascertain a set of results you would like to attain. Then work backwards to ascertain the actions you can perform to get there.

To find out more check out Whole Whale’s manual on measuring nonprofit effects.

As soon as you’ve set up your impact measurement procedures, figure out ways to convey your results on your own site. Make certain to consistently update your articles to not just keep things fresh, but convey your continuing success.

If a donor visits your website and sees overwhelming evidence of the great things you are doing, he’ll be more inclined to buy into your own cause and believe that his contributions are being well spent.

How much can you spend on fundraising?

CharityWatch assesses the effectiveness of nonprofits across a broad assortment of statistics. 1 particular interesting number is the “Price to Raise $100.” Just how it sounds, this reflects how much it costs a charity to earn $100 of public contributions.

On this foundation, a nonprofit is considered exceptionally efficient if its price to raise $100 is $25 or less.

Practically speaking, ascertain how much you would like to raise with your nonprofit fundraising plan or even a particular campaign. Begin with a 4:1 ratio for the $25 mark and move from there. If you wanted to raise $5,000,000, you’d begin your budget at $1,250,000.

Kickstart your donor growth

The section that probably brought most of you here… real donor development.

You’ve got your company set up for success. You have a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish.

Prospecting and donor study

Many experts like to share a fundraising pyramid. A solid general fund of donors supports a more compact core of mid-level gifts in addition to which is a few significant donors to your organization.

You need to maximize every level of the volcano and continuously work on transferring individuals upward.

The first step is to produce a list of prospects.

Direct mail or email
Brainstorming of prospects (using board members and employees alike)
Prospect research (databases filled with free or purchasable contact lists)
Donors give to their own reasons, none. When assessing your current prospect pool and looking for more, assess these characteristics of each prospect:
Longevity – How long has this individual been giving? If they possibly move up the pyramid if they have been here some time? Start looking for the latter as great opportunities to move up the pyramid.
Engagement – Search for individuals that are reading your newsletters, responding to your requirements, reaching out about your company… these are the types that you need to move up the pyramid.
When you start a prospect collecting mission, it could not hurt to start with scrubbing your existing database (whether its paper documents or an Excel workbook or an whole donor management system). It’s great to get a good idea of everybody you’ve had connections to understand your probability of using these people as a foundation for the new strategy or as referrals to new applicants.

As soon as you’ve got a baseline of prospects, then decide if you need to leverage more advanced technology for your nonprofit fundraising efforts.

The advantages of a formal CRM system are enormous for all kinds of organizations. With the proper system in place, your company has the capacity to record all communications with donors and prospects, track their personal traits, create simple email campaigns, find volunteers, etc.

Especially useful are these systems’ abilities to report on progress during campaigns and examine the demographics of prospects and donors. You can run reports that help determine which individuals in which places to target for each particular kind of outreach. This helps when trying to nail down a particular donor outreach campaign.

TechSoup has a breakdown of 8 best CRM systems for nonprofits also. Perform a similar analysis for this when assessing applications for your own organization.

Make sure donors keep giving

Ensure current donors keep contributing.
Attempt to move up donors to mid-level and major gift level standing.
Some useful methods for maintaining and enhancing donor relationships vary from straightforward thank-you notes to community recognition to providing access to specific information or services.
Point out donors who have contributed in a monthly newsletter. Everyone enjoys a little recognition, particularly if they’re intent on furthering their own assignments of committing.

More tactically, you may use donor polls and other donor-directed communications to attempt and get a sense of the way they perceive your company to do. Gear your marketing collateral to them based on particular programs and outcomes that you are achieving.

As you’re publishing info and other marketing collateral for broader consumption, try to concentrate certain pieces to donors only to allow them to see in the progress you are really making within an organization. It is possible to use a more friendly and casual tone when communicating with current donors, to help assist in the relationship building process.

Hold special events only for donors. Have a societal where donors can meet one another and talk about their particular missions and visions for what they need to attain.

Function the pyramid

Asking for more money is not easy, especially if you fear losing a connection with someone that has given faithfully to your company for several years.

First, they need to believe in your mission. It has to support something they find precious to them. Thus, communicate your assignment accurately and descriptively.

Second, they need to believe in your group and you will use their money wisely. No, they do not expect a return on their investment, but with all the thousands of nonprofits out there competing for their bucks, they have loads of options to select from when giving to a charity.

Most of all, donors increase their presents when requested to. If you don’t ask, they will likely continue giving the conventional amount-which is fine-but we are trying to construct a fundraising strategy for expansion.

Key takeaway – You need to aim as large as possible when putting prospects on your donor pyramid. The larger you make the mid-level and high-level sections, the better off your company will be. You can depend on these bigger donations on a more regular basis, which may be used a springboard for future expansion.

Create an impeccable marketing effort

There are lots of different tools you can leverage and approaches you can take to enhance your nonprofit fundraising plan.

Major Kinds of communication

The basic forms of marketing channels are usually known. You are able to communicate direct through email, telephone call or personal visit. You may communicate to a wider scale with people speaking, newsletters, website content, advertising etc.. The main thing to understand is what you are trying to achieve with every sort of communication.

You are not going to have a significant contribution from sending out a newsletter-you might, yet this sort of communication is usually geared to higher-volume, lower-dollar quantities.

You are typically going to need to use more mass communication techniques for filling your pipeline and these earlier-stage kinds of activities. More direct personal touch must close most deals, particularly when more cash is online.

When to use each strategy

A fantastic approach utilizes a mix of all of the techniques discussed above. There’ll be times that you wish to target people and times you will want to target groups.

Direct Mail/Email

Make certain to use email over email if you’re planning to get a later-in-the-process “revenue” discussion with a potential as physical mail has a more personal touch.

Use this technique if you need to connect directly with people. Make certain to use personal touch to make the receiver feel that this notice has more worth than the other items that end up in the garbage. Also include a call to action-conversion rates skyrocket simply by including an choice to act in your message.


Use this technique if you need to reach out to more than just your immediate community. This may be through printed papers and periodicals, on the radio or via television or other forms of media.

Be certain that you know the anticipated return on investment prior to planning any fundraising dollars to this technique, but understand it can pay off especially in case you would like to educate the masses get your brand and workout there.

Internet Marketing

A much more affordable form of promoting your brand, using social networking platforms and other online communities permits you to connect with the greatest number of possible donors for the lowest total price.

The internet was created to reach people quickly and cheaply. Use it to your benefit.

Special Promotions

By creating somewhat regular events which accomplish that, you are able to provide spikes on your contribution ingestion at certain times of the year.

An yearly appeal may work here. Market the chance as a yearly or monthly gathering, and give people a reason to attend. The important thing here is to be sure that you don’t overdo it. Do not host too many occasions or the notion of a unique promotion loses its luster. Why would a donor attend your yearly appeal in the event you really had weekly appeals? No luster.

Public Relations

When you sponsor an event or generate a new piece of helpful content, create a media release to announce it to your community. Like advertising, this has the chance of reaching a high number of people.

Just bear in mind you’ll get more press coverage in a place if you’re able to demonstrate that your information directly affects the community.

Additional Techniques for nonprofit fundraising achievement

Up to 6 percent of all product launches rely on some type of cobranding. Get your name attached to other people who encourage similar causes. You should not see other organizations as only competitors… but rather as possible matches to your strategy.

Work with partners to construct a whole that is greater than the sum of these components.


In a society that is continuing to be interested in social influence, this is a potentially huge area to raise capital.

All they have to do is link to an investor’s sense of purpose.

Take some time to compare various platforms and factor in the cost to raise cash with any attempt put on a platform.

Also be conscious of nonprofit fundraising legislation! With the internet it’s far easier to raise money from people in numerous states, even in the event that you operate in only one. Many states require nonprofits to register so as to conduct fundraising within their jurisdiction-this may apply to more nations than planned if you’re planning to raise funds online.

That having been said, there are definitely opportunities to utilize crowdfunding to your benefit.

Craft the Ideal story

There are a number of ways to get a individual to become interested in your company. Most include connecting with their personal sense of purpose. You want them to feel the pain you are trying to fix.

You might think you do not have all the proper details for a really compelling story, but you are incorrect!

Beth Kanter summarizes four classic storylines that operate well when soliciting donors:

Overcoming the monster – Talk about some kind of hardship your organization is handling. Are 99% of children on your area on subsidized school lunch programs? Okay… tell this story.
Rags to riches – Use your real customers or support recipients as a catalyst. Explain the bad circumstances that contributed to them using your own organization, as well as the 180 degree turnaround you helped them achieve. Do not be afraid to receive detailed in describing the low stage.
Quest – Everybody loves a fantastic quest story. We are on a quest to a totally carbon neutral society. Where do we stand on this long trip? What do you do about it? Make people feel pressured to do something for those suffering.
While donors may constitute a fantastic core of your fundraising plan, there are often overlooked free dollars out there which you might qualify for without realizing. It’s important to see where these areas of opportunity are and to always include grants and other free money in your fundraising plans.

Master grant study

There are increasing numbers of online sources which may be used for free (or at affordable prices) to help on your prospect hunt. Download the free premium edition of the guide to find a list of the greatest sources and a number of their details and how best to use each one.

Finding the correct grant for your company is just half the battle.

How can you now secure the financing?

If you have never written a grant proposal earlier, check out GrantSpace’s free introductory grant-writing class.

GrantSpace also contains a repository of sample files.

Know any deadlines, if there’s a letter of intent due before the program, the ceiling level for financing, etc..

Then visit the funder’s website and see what other kinds of organizations are usually funded. Go to their sites and see the types of programs they provide. Does your organization appear to fit this mould? Write your proposal keeping in mind what sorts of programs worked previously for this funder.

Start planning. If you agree that your organization is a fantastic match for the grant, meet with your staff and begin outlining what has to be done. This is your one- or two-page pitch into the funder to demonstrate why you’re a fantastic fit for them. If the funder likes you, then they will ask you to submit a complete proposal. This is potentially a massive time saver, if actually you’re not a realistic receiver for this grant.

They are generally very friendly people and a very simple conversation can go a long way. Either you briefly talk about your idea and it is not a match, and you have saved yourself time and effort putting together a complete proposal.

Or you’re a excellent match, you hit it off with the funder, and you have started a fantastic relationship together, basically completing the first phase of the application procedure.

This could lead to a lot of years of future financing. Don’t overlook this helpful step! Try to construct a relationship with the funder before you have formally applied for financing.

When you finally begin your proposal, you should have all the info you have to be confident you will win the award. It should be 5-15 pages long and cover matters like a summary of your schedule, background and needs, goals, evaluation procedure, budget, timeline, and any partnerships you’re planning to leverage.

Don’t forget to answer every part of each question!

RFPs can be quite lengthy and dull, but any excuse to dismiss an applicant is usually sufficient to throw the proposal in the garbage. Do not risk this. Don’t be worried about fluffy language… get right to the point. Don’t hesitate to leverage content from prior proposals, as frequently the exact questions are asked in RFPs.

Otherwise, you proceed. There are loads of other grant opportunities out there… see the last section…

The grant-writing procedure

If you have been following all the actions outlined in this manual, the true grant-writing process is going to be the least stressful part. You have already got the basis for sustained excellence engrained in your own organization. Now only wrap the bow around your assignment and make the grant dollars you know you deserve!


Within an ever-changing technological and fiscal landscape, it’s sometimes tough to dedicate time and effort to staying on top of what works and what does not in this area.

Utilize the tools outlined in this manual to help your company optimize its fundraising potential. Share your successes and lessons learned with us as we would like to integrate them into upgraded material for others to use.

Nonprofit fundraising does not have to be difficult, and this manual gives a fantastic foundation for crafting your plan and executing it for many years to come!

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