Planning for Effective Fundraising


Planning for Effective FundraisingThe reason fundraising campaigns fail is they are not planned well.  Let’s plan for a successful annual fundraising campaign. (At another time, we will plan for successful special events.)

Spend time gathering names, mailing addresses and e-mail addresses of potential donors

  • Volunteers for the agency
  • Board members
  • Attendees at agency functions
  • Families of clients, former clients, as appropriate
  • Individuals who have given to other groups (arts, universities, United Way)
  • Representatives of businesses which have given to other groups.

Divide the names you have gathered in three groups:

  • Potentially large donors- These are individuals you will visit
  • Potentially medium donors-These are individuals you will call
  • Potentially small donors- These are individuals you will send a mailing to

Factors in deciding who should be in which pile are the time available to make visits, phone calls and mailings.  Another factor is how much these individuals have previously given to your campaign and that of other agencies.

Make sure to involve potentially large donors in your agency before you visit them:

  • Invite them to an open house
  • Send them materials about your program
  • Include them on an advisory committee
  • Invite them at no cost to any programs you offer

Learn as much as you can about businesses before you visit:

  • Services
  • Profitability
  • Past giving
  • Procedures for making requests

Once you begin an Annual Campaign with careful planning, you are on your way to success.

Visit as many potential donors as you can.  Call them to set up appointments in their office or home.  Begin by asking them to discuss any contacts they have had with the agency such as visits to an open house or an agency special event.  Describe briefly the programs that could be undertaken if the agency raised the funds included in the budget.

Ask for a specific gift as an “investment in the community.”  This number would be the largest amount you think they might contribute.

Thank the donor for any amount they pledge.  When you return to the office, confirm the amount of the pledge and thank them again.

If the prospective donor does not make a pledge, do not get discouraged. Perhaps they will give next year.

Meet with the planning committee again to share what you learned at each visit.

By spending quality time planning for fundraising, you will avoid the major reason why fundraising campaigns fail.

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About Michael Sand

Michael has more than 40 years’ experience as a staff member, board member and consultant to nonprofit groups that need to raise funds. Michael heads Sand Associates, a consulting firm that provides comprehensive services to nonprofit organizations across the country. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. To reach Michael visit his, or send him an e-mail at

Michael is also the author of 3 books listed below available on Amazon.

How To Manage An Effective Nonprofit Organization: From Writing And Managing Grants To Fundraising, Board Development, And Strategic Planning,
The Essential Nonprofit Fundraising Handbook: Getting the Money You Need from Government Agencies, Businesses, Foundations, and Individuals,
How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization: The Essential Guide for Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or Temple

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