How to Fundraise

Is fundraising an art or a science?

In my mind, it is a little bit of both.

Ultimately, the best fundraisers would consider it an art form.

But there are a few hard and fast rules to which all fundraiser adhere, also known as best practices.

For example,

  1. There is the “Rule of Thirds.”  This states that 1/3 of your funds in a campaign program will come from the top 10 or 15 gifts, 1/3 will come from your next 100 – 125 gifts, and the final 1/3 will come from all other gifts. There is a lot of evidence to support this rule.
  2. There is the “Rule of Seven.” This means that you should thank or contact a major donor seven times over the course of the year. That includes phone calls, in-person meetings, letters, and notes.  Make sure you count – seven different thank yous
  3. There is the “Rule of One.” That one is the organization mission. Nothing is more important or significant than the mission. That is always true. When selling an organization, forget the programs and the impact and everything.  First, sell the mission.

These are just three of the many rules.  There will be more to come in this blog. And of course, fundraising is not limited to just individuals – there are also foundations, corporations, government grants, and bequests. So many different forms of funding, so little time.

On the art side of fundraising comes the personality, the passion, the persistence, and the vision to sell a mission and organization to prospective donors.  That is what separates the best fundraisers from the rest.  But there is still science behind that art, and the organizations that adhere to it will always benefit.


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