5 Steps to Becoming a Fundraising Expert

5 Steps to Becoming a Fundraising Expert

As the fundraising economy continues to grow, so do the responsibilities of nonprofit professionals. With more competition than ever before, executives and board members must remain educated on industry best practices to thrive. Knowledgeable leaders are not only more confident in their ability to execute company goals and strategies but can also demonstrate an insider’s perspective when strategizing with team members and partners. With a little preparation, anyone can become a fundraising expert. This guide will introduce you to five key concepts of fundraising that you can apply immediately to your organization. Each section is conveniently summarized for easy reference with implementation tips for implementation at your organization. Read on to become a fundraising expert today!

Know Your Fundraising Strategy

A fundraising strategy is a central document that outlines the purpose of your fundraising efforts as well as the company-wide plan of action for achieving fundraising goals. It is the compass that guides your fundraising efforts by defining a path for success. A fundraising strategy will vary by organization type and fundraising objective. For example, the strategy for a major gift fundraising campaign at a medical research nonprofit will likely be different than the strategy for a capital campaign at a university. Because fundraising strategies can vary widely, it is important to understand your strategy before diving into the other concepts in this guide. Check out our fundraising strategy guide to learn more.

Develop a Strong Network of Partners

When fundraising partnerships are managed effectively, they can provide organizations with valuable resources, expertise, and credibility that can significantly increase fundraising success rates. The most common fundraising partners are corporate foundations, state-based foundations, and civic organizations. Together, these types of partners offer organizations key benefits. Corporate foundations and state-based foundations offer predictable cash flow that organizations can rely on for consistent fundraising. Civic organizations and universities provide in-kind donations, such as equipment and supplies, that can be very useful for organizations. Because organizations must be strategic about which partners to pursue, it is important to develop strong relationships with potential partners. For example, before developing a partnership with a major corporation, nonprofit organizations must show that their cause is relevant to the corporation’s business objectives. To develop a strong network of partners, organizations should start by identifying potential partners through research. Next, organizations must build relationships with each potential partner. When these two steps are completed, organizations can ask partners to become fundraisers.

Define Audience Personas

Audience personas are hypothetical representations of the groups of people your organization is trying to reach. They are a combination of demographics, including age, background, education, and income, as well as psychographics, or a person’s attitudes, opinions, and interests. When creating audience personas, you should consider each group’s size, proximity to your organization, and ability to provide support. The most effective audience personas are ones that are highly customized to the needs of each group. Doing so will help you create marketing content that is highly relevant and effective. As you create audience personas, do not overlook potential partners. This is especially important when working with groups like nonprofits, which may not fit neatly into demographic or psychographic categories.

Learn to Use Data to Make Decisions

As a fundraising expert, it is your job to make informed decisions based on data. With so many data sources available, it can often be overwhelming to determine which data to use. The most important thing to remember is that data is only useful if it is relevant to the decisions you are trying to make. To ensure that you are using the most relevant data, always ask the following questions: Which data source is most relevant to the decision I am trying to make? What data is missing that would improve this analysis? What data should I be asking for? When you are using data to make decisions, it is important to use it to inform, not to dictate. This means that you must interpret the data, look for trends, and use the information to guide your decision.


Fundraising is not easy, and it takes time to master. You should expect it to take several months, if not years, to fully grasp the concepts outlined in this guide. It is important to actively pursue knowledge and stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Whether you are a seasoned fundraising expert or a brand new nonprofit professional, this guide will provide you with actionable insight into key fundraising concepts. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better equipped to execute fundraising strategies with confidence and achieve the desired results.