Nonprofit Fundraising Principles

Not all successful fundraisers started out as instant successes. Just ask Andrea McManus.

McManus, president of the Development Group, wrote in “Nonprofit Management 101” that she made a lot of big mistakes when she first got into fundraising. She didn’t fully understand the fundamentals of philanthropic giving and fund development, which led to her making mistakes such as not customizing her fundraising letters.

McManus didn’t know any better when she first started, and she doesn’t want any aspiring fundraisers to make the same mistakes. She shared six fundraising principles to help make your first foray into the industry a successful one:

  • People give to people. Understand that people don’t want to give to organizations, they want to give to the people your mission serves.
  • Much comes from few. Don’t send out a mass mailing to 70-80 potential corporate prospects. Take the time to identify the top 10 who have some alignment with your mission and put most of your time there.
  • Wealth is not always obvious nor is it necessarily interested in your cause. Too many organizations spend too much time trying to secure donations from high-profile sources. Take a broader view that includes the many individuals with less, or less obvious, wealth who still have the means and the interest to support your mission.
  • It’s not about the money — it’s about building the relationship. Build strong relationships with your donors.
  • Fundraising is not a stand-alone activity.
  • Philanthropy is something to be proud of, and fundraising exists to enable philanthropy. Be proud of the work you do to help philanthropists as they use their resources to help others.

About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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