My notes about business of non-profits


  • Seeking financial support for a charity or cause
  • Effort to build long-term relationships with supporters
  • TLDR: Separate the donors from their money

Types of Gifts - may be solicited or unsolicited

  • One time gifts
  • Sustainer or recurring gifts
  • Gifts-in-kind
  • Volunteering
  • Grants
  • Planned gifts
  • Stock gifts
  • Matching gifts

Strategies to get donations

  • Campaigns for major/planned giving (major = outright, planned = deferred)
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Campaigns for recurring giving
  • Annual giving
  • Capital campaigns
  • Memberships (Society)
  • Auction, contests
  • Product sales

Appeal Methods

  • Direct Mail
  • Phone calls
  • Print, TV, radio
  • Proposals/case statements
  • Events
  • In-person meetings
  • Online and Mobile
  • Email
  • Text
  • Social media
  • Crowdfunding

Fundraising needs

  1. Clear mission statement
  2. Compelling vision statement
  3. Consistent branding
  4. Measurable outcomes

Fundraising plan - Who, what, when, where, how


  • Cost per dollar
  • Return on investment
  • Donor growth
  • Average gift size
  • Donor Retention rate
  • Donor Lifetime value

Case statement (i.e. reason for support your organization), 3-4 pages long with half text and half images + charts (statistics & impact results), include history, mission, vision and success stories

Questions to consider:

  • Why YOUR organization?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What is lost without you?
  • Why important what you do?
  • Why should people care?

Effective emotional messaging needed.

  • Highlight problem. Appeal based on anger, fear, frustration if problem is not solved.
  • Inspire, storytelling
  • Stay positive, associate your organization with happiness
  • Use urgency
  • Don't use shocking imagery
  • Don't make audience numb to your appeals

Major Giving

  • Large, well above average donation
  • Threshold amount is different for every organization
  • Common baseline = average annual gift x 100
  • Types of major givers
    • Affiliates - look for social or business relationships (e.g. local bank)
    • Pragmatists - seek personal benefits for support (e.g. better treatment at a cancer center)
    • Dynasts - heirs to family wealth, who following giving traditions of family
    • Re-payers - reciprocate the benefits they or family members received
  • 80/20 rule applies, sometimes it could be 90/10
  • Major donors deserve the highest level of personalization, thanks (personal letter or article in newsletter etc.) and recognition (donor wall, other naming opportunities etc.)
  • More reliable revenue stream

Donor Lifecycle

  1. Identification
  2. Qualification
  3. Cultivation
  4. Solicitation
  5. Stewardship

Emotional game

  • Turn donors into ambassadors of your organization
  • Make it easy to share excitement: website buttons, peer-to-peer opportunities, email forwarding, Gear/swag, templates/icons/badges, social media

Why donors leave

  • Other causes more deserving
  • Current organization did not acknowledge support
  • No recall of ever supporting
  • Did not inform how money was used