Be A Successful Fundraiser

Fundraising, I believe, is as much of a science as an art.  Success comes with intentionalitysuccess, process, attention to detail, follow up.  Yes, being personable helps—at least when you are trying to create relationships with prospects and donors.  But, truthfully, a great personality will not get a great gift; a carefully crafted and followed plan will. Not as sexy, perhaps, but far more successful.  And nothing is sexier than success. But what, really, is success?  It’s reaching certain measurements and if you don’t know what those are, you cannot know if you are, indeed, a winner.  And that’s where metrics come in.

Fundraisers are often measured by the amount of money that comes in—and that certainly can be an important measurement.  But if that is all that is being measured, it could push one to chasing dollars.  And that can lead to getting lesser gifts and grants.  It can also lead to exhaustion—yours and your donors!  Instead, consider the things you must do in order to raise great gifts.

  1. Say thank you. They are on your radar for a reason.  Perhaps they’ve given before; or attended an event or performance.  And o.k.:  Not all reasons are equal.  Maybe you just met them somewhere, got their business card and put them on your database.  Or they made a great gift somewhere—just not to you—and so…..Still, thank them for all they’ve done for your organization or for the nonprofit sector as a whole.  After all, they’ve probably supported someone, sometime.
  2. Get to know them. And sure, you cannot always get out and meet with everyone. But you can learn about them before you ask them for another thing.  Find out what matters to them—particularly what matters to them philanthropically.  What is the best gift they’ve ever made?  What about the best thank you?  Why do they give what they give?
  3. Make sure you have the right person making the ask or getting the prospect ready for an ask. This is true whether you are up close and personal or doing things via email, snail mail, or text.
  4. While you are considering the right person, consider the other things you’ve got to get right: the project, the amount, and the timing.

All this doesn’t happen by serendipity. It does happen by being intentional, knowing what you are trying to accomplish and then measuring the success you have.


Janet Levine helps nonprofits go from mired to inspired. Learn more at  

 Her new book, Compelling Conversations for Fundraisers can help you to have more fundraising success.  Buy it at Amazonfundraisers-cover