Improve your fundraising strategy with Double the Donation's Fundraising Strategy Ultimate Assessment.

The Fundraising Strategy Ultimate Assessment (Free & Easy!)

No two nonprofits are the same. All organizations have their own unique aspirations, limitations, and culture that shape the way you serve your community.

One thing all nonprofits do share? Every nonprofit could benefit from assessing (or reassessing) their fundraising strategy.

No matter how well you feel your organization is doing, it’s always worth it to take a step back and see if there’s anything your nonprofit could be doing better.

Similarly, if your nonprofit is running into roadblocks but you can’t quite identify where the trouble stems from, a comprehensive fundraising strategy assessment might help reveal your organization’s blindspots.

(Looking for some professional guidance to help your nonprofit meet its goals? Be sure to consult our list of the top ten nonprofit consulting firms to get your organization on track!)

Luckily, assessing your fundraising strategy has never been easier. In this article, we’ll cover all the areas of fundraising assessment, including:

  1. Fundraising Strategy Planning
  2. Fundraising Strategy for Communications
  3. Fundraising Strategy for Events
  4. Fundraising Strategy Evaluation

Ready to revamp your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy? Let’s explore each category in more detail. 

Assess your fundraising strategy by examining your fundraising planning process.

1. Fundraising Strategy Planning

At the heart of your organization, you need to have an intimate understanding of your nonprofit’s direction before you’re ever able to strategize the fundraising process. Before focusing on specific arms of your fundraising efforts, you need to look at the big picture of your nonprofit.

To get a better idea of the scope of your organization’s fundraising needs, here are a few important questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have clear, realistic goals?

    Your organization should know what it wants and be able to clearly articulate what you’re trying to accomplish as a nonprofit. You’ll likely have a variety of interrelated aspirations, and by identifying them you’ll better be able to strategize fundraising. For example, you may be interested in developing goals related to:

    • Fundraising.
    • Donor acquisition.
    • Donor retention.

    Once you’ve determined your goals, share them with the rest of your team so that everyone is on the same path to realizing your objectives.

  • What is your budget?

    You should not only be familiar with how much you’ve allocated to spend on your organization in total, but also know how much you’ve set aside for individual projects. Keep your budget as detailed and forward-thinking as possible. Your budget should account for:

    • Fixed operational costs (rent, taxes, payroll).
    • One-time expenses.
    • Projected revenue.

    Your budget should also take into account unexpected circumstances so that you’re prepared for everything.

  • Do you have a gift range chart?

    A gift range chart is a diagram that breaks down amount of funding you’ll need to collect to reach a goal. The chart can illustrate:

    • The number of donors you need to reach your fundraising goal.
    • The number of individual gifts needed to reach that level.
    • A suggestion of how fundraising should be distributed among major gifts and smaller donations.

    Gift chart are often used for larger fundraising campaigns like capital campaigns, but they can be used for virtually any campaign.

  • Do you have a case for support?

    Your case for support is the elevator pitch of your organization. Why should donors care about your cause? What makes your nonprofit special? Your case should communicate:

    • A brief history of your organization.
    • Your nonprofit’s mission statement.
    • Specific, actionable goals you look to achieve.
    • A clear path toward achieving those goals.
    • A call to action for donors and stakeholders.

    If you’re not sure where to get started with your case statement, you can always hire a fundraising consultant. This professional will help evaluate your goals and determine the best way to translate them into a case for support.

  • Have you delegated responsibilities to a capable team?

    Successful nonprofits always delegate responsibility among capable team members. Identify areas where duties need to be more evenly shared, or where individual staff members need to pick up the slack. Some ways you can support task delegation include:

    • Creating subcommittees within departments.
    • Sharing your fundraising calendar across your team.
    • Using a calendar matrix to indicate task responsibility.

    Be clear when delegating tasks so that there is less confusion between team members.

    Additionally, you’ll likely need the support of your board and the assistance of your executive director. Inform them at every major step in the fundraising strategy process.

  • Have you identified fundraising channels?

    Fundraising channels determine the audience you reach when making the case for support from potential donors. Depending on trends in your constituency, you might rely on:

    • Direct mail.
    • Phone calls.
    • Events.
    • Donation pages.
    • Social media.

    Using multiple online and traditional communication methods will ensure that you’re reaching all of your supporters.

  • Have you outlined fundraising sources?

    To fundraise efficiently, you should know exactly where you’ll be focusing your fundraising efforts. You can use prospect research and wealth screening tools to determine good candidates for giving. Some fundraising sources to consider might include:

    • Major donors.
    • Corporations.
    • Foundations.
    • Grants.

    Additionally, consult your nonprofit CRM to segment your various supporters so that your outreach is effective.

  • Have you developed a calendar of fundraising events?

    To best keep track of your fundraising efforts, you need to develop a detailed calendar of fundraising activities. On this document, you should track:

    • Deadlines.
    • Allocation of resources.
    • Desired results of fundraising activities.
    • Improvements from year to year, etc.

    With an organized calendar of events, you’ll have a better idea of when to start promoting events or follow-up with donors after a campaign ends.

  • Do you have the necessary software to support your fundraising plan?

    Nowadays, fundraising software is the workhorse that nonprofits rely on to help carry out the basic functions of their day-to-day operations. Is the software you’re using helping you achieve your goals? Your nonprofit might benefit from:

    • Constituent relationship management (CRM) software.
    • Online giving software.
    • Wealth screening software.
    • Fundraising event software.

    Bonus! Take a look at our rundown of expert fundraising software resources to see what solution might be right for your nonprofit.

  • Does your board support your fundraising strategy?

    Determine if your board supports your fundraising strategy. With a supportive board, you’ll be better equipped to achieve your goals. If your board doesn’t support the way your fundraising strategy, your assessment is the time to ask why.

Takeaway: Doing a big-picture assessment of your fundraising strategy can give you an idea of where to focus any further investigations. If you’re analyzing a specific fundraising project, a feasibility study will cover all of these bases, helping you understand if your project is viable.

Assess your fundraising strategy by examining your communications process.

2. Fundraising Strategy for Communications.

Now that you’ve looked at your overall fundraising strategy, it’s time to turn the spotlight on individual arms of your fundraising efforts. In particular, the way your nonprofit approaches communications can influence the success or failure of your fundraising strategy on the whole.

You can identify areas where your nonprofit’s communications techniques need improvement by asking:

  • Have you determined viable communications channels?

    What communications channels result in successful donations? Are there lines of communication you rely on that don’t seem to connect with donors? Some ways to determine channel viability consist of:

    • Using A/B testing to evaluate channels.
    • Collecting communications preferences from donors.
    • Collecting data on which channels lead to the most donations.

    Moreover, don’t just stick to one communication method. Diversify your channels so that you can connect with as many supporters as possible.

  • Have you developed a marketing plan?

    Your marketing plan is a key tool in your arsenal that will help you successfully fundraise. If you haven’t developed a marketing plan, take the time to create one that is tailored to the fundraising needs of your organization. Your marketing plan should:

    • Target key donor segments, such as major donors, volunteers, recurring givers, etc.
    • Address donors at every stage of the donor life cycle.
    • Not only focus on fundraising, but also donor growth, retention, etc.

    Refer to your overarching goals when creating a communications plan because it will help you determine the types of content that you’ll send to donors.

  • Is your online content optimized?

    Make sure that your content is as user-friendly as possible. Most donors will interact with your nonprofit online, so it’s important to make the process seamless. Focus your efforts on:

    When your content is accessible on multiple devices, it’s not only more user-friendly but also available to a larger group of users.

  • Have you provided clear calls to action (CTAs) for donors?

    Your online content should prominently feature CTAs to direct your visitors to donate. These streamline the visitor-to-donor pipeline by making it easier for individuals to complete a donation, as well as encourage donors to give specific amounts. A strong CTA:

    • Uses action words.
    • Is concise.
    • Stresses urgency.

    Your CTAs should be specific and clearly stat what action you want supporters to take.

Takeaway: When it comes to your fundraising strategy, your communications assessment should focus on what your nonprofit is doing to ease engagement between donors and your organization.

Assess your fundraising strategy by examining your fundraising strategy for events.

3. Fundraising Strategy for Events.

As with communications, your fundraising strategy is intrinsically tied to your approach to hosting events. Events help anchor your fundraising efforts as well as unite your donors as a community.

To guide an evaluation of your event fundraising strategy, you should ask yourself:

  • Do you have clear goals for each event related to your overall fundraising strategy?

    Are you giving enough attention to the specific goals you’re trying to accomplish by holding your event? Depending on the type of event you’re holding, your goals may vary. For example:

    • Stewardship events will focus on donor retention and engagement with fundraising being a long-term goal.
    • Fundraising events might have a specific fundraising goal they aim to meet, focusing efforts on immediate accomplishment.

    Bonus! Improve your fundraising efforts even further by checking out our list of 113+ Amazing Fundraising Ideas.

  • Do you have a budget for each event?

    Be sure to set individual budgets for each event you hold. Know up front what each event will cost and plan accordingly. You don’t want to be caught with any surprises! Leave room in your budget for:

    • Event-specific marketing.
    • Venue costs, catering, clean-up.
    • An emergency fund.

    Your strategy should also take into account ways you can raise money for events in case you go over your budget. By raising event donations from corporations, restaurants, and individuals, you’ll be able to stay within budget (or even save money!).

    To help stay on track of your budget and manage other fundraising event details, your organization should use an event management tool. Luckily, we have a list of top providers to jump-start your search.

  • Do you have a marketing plan?

    You should draft a marketing plan specifically designed to promote your events. Your events will need special attention, so don’t just rely on general marketing efforts to get the word out. You can promote your events by using:

    • Social media.
    • Event micro-sites.
    • E-mail campaigns.

    Use the communication methods that your donors are actively using.

  • Do you have a follow-up and retention plan?

    Events can help grow your organization, but only if you follow up with your constituents after-the-fact. Keep track of the donors you engage with, and use the event as an opportunity to collect their contact information if you don’t have it already.

    You can increase retention by sending these donors thank-you letters following events, using the attendance list of an event targeted donor outreach, and requesting attendee feedback to shape how you plan future events.

  • Do you have a clear base of staff and volunteers who can run the event?

    Your volunteers and staff will be the ones who make your event a success. Be sure you know who you can count on, and keep track of them as well as you do your donors. A great way to mobilize volunteers and staff is to break them into subcommittees. At an auction, for example, one might need:

    • A procurement committee to handle the items on auction.
    • A marketing committee to promote the event.
    • A stewardship committee to follow up with donors after the event.

    Committees have clearly defined goals so that no task goes to the wayside.

  • Do you have corporate partnerships to support your event?

    Corporate partners can help bring your event to the next level, and they’re also a great source of fundraising revenue. Seek out corporate partners who:

    • Have a history of philanthropy.
    • Have ties to your community.
    • Will match fundraising.

    There are plenty of corporations that are willing to provide donations to organizations; just look at this list of companies that accept donation requests.

Takeaway: Other arms of your organization, such as marketing and fundraising, all intersect when it comes to your organization’s events, so it’s important to take the time to assess how well the moving parts work together.

Assess your fundraising strategy by reviewing how you evaluate your nonprofit's fundraising efforts.

4. Fundraising Strategy Evaluation.

Evaluation should be a core part of any nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. Without assessing how well your fundraising strategy is performing, you won’t know where to make improvements.

(With the help of nonprofit event fundraising software, your organization can collect and analyze important data to see where these improvements should be made.)

To assess how well you’re evaluating your fundraising strategy, you should ask yourself:

  • Do you have metrics to determine the success of your fundraising strategy?

    Have you been collecting performance data, and has the data been collected consistently? Tracking performance metrics will help you understand trends in your nonprofit. Some areas to track include: cost per dollar raised (CPDR), return on investment (ROI), and conversion rate. 

  • Do you have a team member in charge of revising the fundraising strategy?

    Your nonprofit should have a dedicated staff member in charge of revising fundraising strategy so they can stay focused on the big picture of your fundraising efforts. The responsability might fall on your:

    With a designated person revising your fundraising strategy, you’ll have someone that can make changes when your goals evolve.

  • Have you established milestones for your strategy?

    To see how your organization is progressing, you should establish milestones for your nonprofit to evaluate itself. They might relate to:

    • Donor growth/retention.
    • Webpage views/CTA clicks.
    • Major giving.

    These milestone will make it easier to measure the success of your goals.

  • Have you designated times in your calendar to check in with your fundraising strategy’s performance against key metrics?

    You should periodically review your fundraising performance strategy. This way, if a strategy isn’t working, you can fix what’s broken. Consider reviewing strategy:

    • Annually.
    • During campaigns.
    • Following fundraising events.

    Use your fundraising software to analyze data to gain a better picture of how your fundraising efforts are progressing and make changes accordingly.

  • Do you have a process in place for updating the fundraising strategy?

    Making regular adjustments to your fundraising strategy is an integral part of keeping your fundraising process optimized. Be sure it’s easy to correct course and that you can make changes as you go along. You might regularly consider adjusting your fundraising strategy by making evaluations after:

    • Your fundraising plan reaches certain milestones.
    • Key fundraising events.
    • The end of each quarter.

    Bonus! One surefire way to evaluate your fundraising strategy effectively? Enlist the support of a nonprofit consulting firm.

Takeaway: If evaluation isn’t a part of your strategy, your fundraising efforts are likely not as effective as they could be. Keep comprehensive, consistent data, and use that to inform how you move forward.

Now that you’ve assessed your fundraising strategy, your nonprofit is ready to get started on your next successful campaign. Use what you’ve learned to guide your strategy moving forward, and be sure to periodically assess your strategy to stay on track. Good luck!

Want to learn more about improving your fundraising strategy? Check out these additional resources to improve your nonprofit’s approach.