From my 15 years of fundraising, listed below are lessons I have learned:

Elements of a Successful Campaign


  • Create a Steering Committee of influence and well connected volunteers
  • Volunteer Recruitment–recruit volunteers who in their sphere of influence have people willing to give to your organization simply because this volunteer asked them.
  • Prospect & Evaluation Education–Working with your volunteers, begin to strategize who are prospects to giving to your organization and what person is closest to them (someone they cannot say no to) to make “the ask.”
  • Kick off Meeting–kickoff the campaign with a party!! Create excitement and buzz about this campaign and give the clear impression people NEED and WANT to be a part of it. Make a clear beginning date and end date to this fundraising campaign.
  • Conducting a Report meeting–hold monthly meetings to compare the successes of each volunteer captain. Puts donation rates ever before your influential volunteers and give them an urgency to participate. Creates competition and allows you to make heroes out of them.
  • Victory Celebration–by setting a date for the campaign to end, it creates urgency and momentum for teams and volunteers to focus upon and meet deadlines. Celebration allows you to again make heroes out of volunteers in front of their peers and people who matter to them. Showcases that your organization is a success and worthy of people investing their time and resources.
  • Aggressively Follow-up–make sure people are good on their pledges.

To be successful, the annual enrollment must have three elements:

1. Determining prospective donors’ interest in your organization.

2. Analyzing prospect’s financial ability to contribute.

3. Determining who is the right person to make the solicitation.

Why People Give

  1. First: They are asked (MOST IMPORTANT)
  2. Second: They believe and care about the ideals of the organization
  3. Third: Prestige and recognition
  4. Fourth: Seek power and influence
  5. Fifth: Peer pressure
  6. Sixth: Tax consideration

What OTHER benefits from the annual campaign?

  • An awareness and understanding of your organization and its programs
  • A broad base for support of program resources
  • New prospects as well as current donors
  • A measure of independence in program and operation
  • An annual opportunity to tell the your organization’s story
  • An opportunity for a donor to gain personal satisfaction
  • A vehicle for growth, providing strength in working together for a common cause
  • A source of human resources for programs as volunteers become more involved in your needs.
  • An opportunity for personal commitment

In summary, people give to people. People give to people and my focus is always to make heroes out of our donors. I study and research potential donors extensively and firmly believe the focus should be on determining who a potential donors cannot say no. I am very comfortable with making “the ask” but I almost always want someone with me the potential donor trusts and who is already bought into the program.

In individual giving campaigns I always have a steering committee to help identity and network potential donors. For those volunteers, my focus is always to never undersell the project. I lay everything on the table and express to them we have high standards because the task is so important. I give them a timeline they are working within and provide plenty of encouragement, applause, coaching, direction, and support. They will know where our fundraising numbers are every step of the way and always keep our goal in front of us. Each fundraising campaign will have a beginning and an ending. Hand written thank you notes are always sent to donors and volunteers. At the end and along the way, we will CELEBRATE!