Fund Development


1. The key to a successful nonprofit is a base of diversified income. This includes grants, earned income, and philanthropic gifts.

2. The most significant part of an agency’s income should be that over which it has the most control. Grants and government contracts are unreliable sources of income.

3. A good base of charitable income should be in the form of sustainable annual income. This is built on the on-going cultivation of donors, and an effort to get them to support the agency at higher and higher levels.

4. We must realize that Special Events are not effective fundraisers, not when you consider all the time and energy that goes into putting one together. They are excellent ‘friend-raisers’, an opportunity to tell the story of how the agency makes a difference in the lives of its clients. More money can come from utilizing that time and energy to cultivate donors.

5. The real work begins after the event, cultivating all the relationships that have been created at the event, and turning these into annual supporters.

6. Grants are great for starting new services, or funding one-time purchases, but they are time-limited and cannot be the foundation of service delivery. Most granters want to know how the agency is going to sustain the program once the grant runs out. Write another grant?

7. The real growth in philanthropic income comes by cultivating those people who are already in your data base. It is much harder to find a new giver, who first must be convinced to ‘buy-in” to your services, before ‘cashing in’ with a gift.

8. The process of fundraising is fundamentally about building relationships and effectively telling the stories of the agency’s impact on people’s lives. This can be done best by all board members. Asking for money is the last thing you do, and is done by only a select few.

9. Fundraising is a team effort by the board and staff. The board does the cultivation. The staff provides the support and can be critical in the “ask”.

10. The first step in fund development is the strategic plan. This articulates the agency’s needs and provides the framework around which the fundraising can be centered. People give to dreams, not to deficits.