Nonprofit organizations  often bring in most of their revenue through fundraising (also referred to as development or advancement)


Fundraising Plan

Even if your organization has been raising money for awhile, it is important to have a fund-raising plan. Here are some tips for putting one together and a template.


Many nonprofit organizations rely on grant funding. It can be a good way to get a significant amount of money, but grants can be restrictive and the preparation is time consuming. It is also important for your organization’s mission to fit in with the foundation’s mission. Here are some links that will help you with your grants.  This includes templates and sample materials.

Individual donors and annual appeal

Most individuals are solicited through an annual appeal or direct appeal ( if it takes place more than once a year). Here are some ways to ensure that your appeals will be effective.

Major gifts

Major gifts are generally individual donations of $1,000 or more. These gifts require quite a bit of cultivation and input from your board.

You may want to use a gift chart, which helps you plan how many gifts you need at each level. It can be used for both major gifts and the annual appeal. How to Build a Gift Chart – About.com

Special events

Special events are another way for an organization to raise money. They also raise awareness in the community.

A common type of special event is an auction. If having an event auction is too much for your organization to take on, you might consider an online auction. Here is some information about both.


One way to obtain additional revenue for your event is to secure sponsorships. These can be both corporate and individual sponsors.

Raffles & legal issues

You may be considering a raffle as a way to raise money, but make sure you are familiar with the legal requirements. You will need to get a permit to conduct a raffle or any other gaming activity. The requirements listed below pertain to Massachusetts. If you are from another state, please check with your attorney general’s office.

Online fundraising

Online and e-mail fundraising are becoming increasingly popular and can be a more cost effective way to reach out to more potential donors. Remember that not everyone wants to donate online, so be sure your website includes a mailing address so people can send you a check.

Social media for fundraising

Social media is often used more for marketing than fundraising, but if you are interested in incorporating it as a fundraising tool, here is some more information.

Capital campaign

A capital campaign is usually conducted for a major expense such as a new building or renovation.

Planned giving

Planned giving is when a donor bequests money to an organization or invests money naming the organization as a beneficiary.

In-kind donations

In-kind donations are gifts of goods and services. Not all of these donations are tax-deductible. It’s important that your organization keep track of all the in-kind donations it receives.

Fundraising in a down economy


Whatever type of fundraising your organization does, it’s bound to be more difficult in a down economy. Here are some ways to ease the burden.

Acknowledging donations

Acknowledging donations is important for two reasons. One, they give the donor a record of their contribution, and two, they serve as an important donor relations tool. It’s crucial that you send a written thank you as soon as possible (within 48 hours). You may also want to consider having your executive director or board members call each donor to thank them.

Donor relations

Thanking your donors is the first step in donor relations (also known as stewardship). It continues with frequent communication about what the organization is doing – how you are spending the donors’ money. You may also want to consider holding special thank-you events for your donors.


Fundraising research (grants and individual donors)

Are you looking for ways to find new donors? One of the keys is building relationships. Some of the sites listed below require a paid subscription to search their databases.

How can I learn about researching and cultivating individual donors?– Foundation Center (This link includes prospect worksheets for both foundations and individuals.)

You can access most foundation’s 990 forms on Guidestar.

Board involvement

Having your board involved in fund-raising is an integral part of an organization’s development plan. Some organizations even have requirements for board members to give and/or obtain donations.

Additional Development Resources