Eight Nonprofit Professionals Offer Their Best Fundraising Advice

Eight Nonprofit Professionals Offer Their Best Fundraising Advice

Reprinted from Forbes Magazine

March 2018

Fundraising is an essential activity for any nonprofit organization. Because this involves asking people for donations, rather than exchanging money for a direct product or service, nonprofit leaders need to get donors engaged and emotionally invested in the organization’s cause and work.

Building and maintaining relationships during a fundraising campaign can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can create a bond that will last long after a donation has been made. Eight members of Forbes Nonprofit Council share their best fundraising advice with fellow nonprofit leaders.

1. Keep It Simple 

The best piece of fundraising advice I’d give is the same I’ve been given: Keep it simple. In a time where we see over-the-top, viral fundraising efforts bring in millions, realize that these are the exceptions and often backed by large marketing efforts. Maintain a strong bond with your community, give them opportunities to raise funds within a clear mission, and you’ll have success every time. – Glenn D. Banton, Sr.(OSD) Operation Supply Drop


2. Align Fundraising With A Concrete, Quantifiable Purpose 

Always link what you want to raise with a specific goal that can be quantified and shared. It’s not just about fundraising; it’s about having specific goals, knowing what they cost and raising that amount. – Gloria HorsleyOpen to Hope


3. Be Transparent And Accessible 

Transparency and accessibility go a long way in gaining new supporters, as well as keeping faithful donors. Invite people to tour your facilities to see exactly how their donations are being used. Include your cell phone number inside hand-written thank you notes. Most people won’t take you up on the offer, but your willingness to be open and reachable is essential in building trust. – Lindsay CrosslandThe Salvation Army

4. Focus On Strengthening A Few Key Relationships 

Focus on a few high-level, high-impact donors. Communicate with them more regularly. Study what they are interested in. Send them articles according to their interests and write personal notes. Make it a goal not only to attain a higher level of funding from them, but a superb relationship. Think more about the long-term relationship, long-term board seat and long-term value. – Pamela HawleyUniversalGiving

5. Continue To Show Gratitude After The Donation Is Made 

Don’t just thank donors at the time of giving. Find opportunities to thank them often. If you want a donor to think of your organization in the future, thank them with a story of how their gift has been beneficial. A story leaves a lasting impression and donors want to know how their gifts are impacting others. A donor is likely to share a story with other potential donors. – Duana PattonOhio District 5 Area Agency on Aging

6. Understand And Communicate What’s In It For The Donor 

Great fundraising meets the need of the donor, not the need of the person asking. You should always understand the goals and motivations of the donor, and then provide a pitch that will help them meet their goals through giving to your cause. It’s both emotional and practical and will lead to greater and longer relationships. – Doug ShipmanWoodruff Arts Center

7. Ask For Donor Feedback 

What better way to learn what works well with your fundraising pitch than to ask prior funders? They chose to support you for a reason, and assuming you have an amicable relationship with them, just reach out and ask: ‘What was it about our pitch that drew you to us? What do you see as our competitive advantage? How can we improve?’ Their feedback will certainly fuel your fundraising efforts. – Ana PantelicFundación Capital

8. Do What Works Best For You 

Keep doing what’s working. Everyone wants to give fundraising advice, but every organization is going to need a different strategy. Don’t let the advice of ‘experts’ send you down roads that lead nowhere when you already have a road that is leading somewhere. Double down on what’s working for you. – Ted GonderMoneythink