9 Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign

If you’re looking to seriously up your fundraising game, look no further. At this year’s Cause Camp event, Lori L. Jacobwith joined us to share her insights on fundraising and storytelling. Jacobwith is a nationally-recognized master storyteller and works as a fundraising culture change expert with Ignited Fundraising.

Last weekend, Jacobwith led a Cause Camp workshop at Nonprofit Hub on Nine Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign. Since all of our readers couldn’t be there in-person, we took down the key points so nobody would miss out. Check them out below.

Leadership is Key

Your nonprofit needs somebody that’s completely focused on your fundraising. Once leadership is put into place, everyone can play some role in fund development for your nonprofit. If your staff is supporting the leadership with fundraising efforts, then your organization’s hard work will have greater returns.

Gather the Staff

A fund development staff member is key–as Jacobwith put it, no funds coming in means no new programs going out. The more specific your job description, the easier it’ll be to find the right person to fill this role. This step depends largely upon the size of your organization. If you don’t have the resources to hire fund development staff, encourage board members and volunteers to help with tasks like letter writing, follow-ups and activities that connect donors with your organization.

Involve Your Board Members

Jacobwith advised nonprofits to include their board members in the “doing” and not just the giving. Board members can make phone calls to donors, invite colleagues to events, and do other things to encourage interest in your organization. Once you set expectations for your board members and clearly define their roles, they can play a part in helping decide what your nonprofit should be committed to. Board members share your organization’s passion, so their involvement is crucial.

Develop a Clear Goal

A well-defined goal gives you something to communicate to your donors. Clear and pressing goals, Jacobwith says, communicate urgency, motivating people to take action. You can also break down your goal into multiple campaigns. This allows you to focus on milestones, and it gives you the opportunity to keep donors updated on how your organization is doing.

Make People Care

Whether it’s good news or bad news, have a story that resonates. As a master storyteller, Jacobwith knows the power of a compelling story. It creates a connection between donors and your organization, and it offers a concrete way to communicate the impact and value of your work.

Always Be Communicating

Frequent communication helps retain top-of-the-mind status for your nonprofit. Fortunately, there are endless ways to stay in touch with donors: direct mail, email, websites, social media and more. At Cause Camp, Jacobwith highlighted two objectives for successful communication:

  1. Make sure your communications make people feel something;
  2. Make sure people can learn something about how their contribution can help.

Be Transparent

Once you’ve set your goal, make sure everyone knows about it. This step requires communication not only to your financial contributors, but also to your board, staff, volunteers and all other interested parties. Create an annual fund development plan and give updates on it throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to be honest if you’re falling behind on your goals, too. Your donors will step up when they know that your impact is at risk.

Invite Participants

Once you have communicated your goals and needs, you can begin inviting participants to do things for your organization. Jacobwith explained that being specific here is necessary. In particular, make sure to clearly communicate both how much you need from donors and how you’ll use their money.

Utilize Donor Data Management

Jacobwith said that your system is only as good as the information you put into it, and we couldn’t agree more. Take the time to find a donor management system that’s a good fit for your organization. A good system will make it easier to track a greater depth of data, not just names and contact information.


Jacobwith’s expertise offered a number of ways for the fundraising process to become more than just a transaction. For a more in-depth look at Jacobwith’s Nine Steps, you can download her free eBook.

successful fundraising

Claire Shinn

April 12, 2016

You May Also Enjoy

Become a Member

Whether you’re with a large team or a solo entrepreneur looking to start the next great cause, we have a membership package that will help you grow your network and your cause.