Source 4: More Effective Fundraising Getting Back to Basics
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Source 4: More Effective Fundraising Getting Back to Basics


Follow these five steps to lead your agency’s own economic recovery.

  1. Establish a strong organizational structure.
    Nonprofits must develop organizational capacities, such as a strong board, despite the pressures to fund innovative projects. It may not be as “sexy” as pioneering new efforts, but it can garner more tangible respect and support from educated donors.

  2. Build on your assets.
    Your most important asset is your relationships. If you build your financial base by building your relationship base, you will “never grow hungry again.”

  3. Emphasize what your group does and how it makes a difference.
    This will always be more effective than emphasizing the need for money. Needy or desperate-looking organizations are often seen as unstable and a poor investment. People generally do not give from guilt.

  4. Know your stuff.
    Knowledge and commitment give fundraisers the confidence and composure to pick up the phone, pen, or computer and reach out to potential donors. Educate your board and volunteers thoroughly.  

  5. Get the right appeal to the right prospect for the right amount at the right time. 
    Do your research prior to the solicitation. On average, nonprofits see donor attrition rates (died, moved, or stopped giving) of 15-25% each year. If you’re acquiring 15-25% new donors each year, you’re only maintaining your current program. If you want to grow, you’ll need to attract more than 25% new donors each year.

Typical Donor Response Rates

  • Personal face-to-face solicitations: 50% say yes, but half will give less than the amount you requested
  • Personal phone calls: 15-20%
  • Personal letters: 10-20%
  • Door-to-door canvassing: 15%
  • Phone-a-Thons: 5%
  • Direct mail: 1%
  • Special events: Varies by event

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