3 Steps to More Focused (and more successful) Fundraising

successful fundraisingSmall non-profits often struggle with multiple priorities – not least the fact that fundraising can often just be one aspect of a person’s job. That’s one of the ways that I help my clients: working with them to develop tailored successful fundraising systems that work for THEIR resources (not some other, larger charity’s resources).

But let’s face it, no matter what, fundraising is multi-faceted, time-consuming and often reactive – particularly when you have to fit around donor’s schedules or your board’s diaries.

So how can small non-profits get more focus to ensure more successful fundraising?


For me, the key to being more focused starts with goal setting. What is it that you ultimately want – and need – to achieve from fundraising?

You should already having a fundraising plan or strategy that will inform your overall direction – but often it can be overwhelming knowing that you need to raise £/$xx for xx projects within the next 12 months to 3 years (or whatever your planning cycle is).

Rather than being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the fundraising target and the length of your fundraising ‘to do’ list, my advice is to take a step back and break down your overall goals into specific actions.

Strategic plans are all about delivering longer term goals, so translate each goal into actions and targets on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. In other words, break them down into a manageable ‘to do’ list rather than a larger strategic goal.

To get more focus and ensure that you have more chance of fundraising success, I advise people to set their daily, weekly and monthly goals based around three key principles:


1. What do you need to do to bring you closer to your fundraising objectives?

Your overall aim may be to raise £100,000 towards a key project in the next 18 months, to develop a more effective donor communications programme, and to raise the profile of your charity through fundraising events. In terms of your financial target, how many prospects do you need to get you there? How much are you asking for from each prospect? Who are your priority prospects and when do they need to be approached – and who is doing the approaching? Is it you or a board member? Break down your overall objectives into smaller chunks and then start off each day or week by asking yourself the question: what am I doing this week that’s going to bring me closer to the overall objective? It might be a donor meeting or a briefing note for a board member to use to approach a potential donor or it could be indepth research into a major gift prospect or the preparation of a draft trust funding bid.


2. How does your activity contribute to your financial fundraising goals this month?

As in the examples above, perhaps one of your activities is writing a briefing note for a board member who is meeting a key prospect to make the ask. So, while the briefing note in itself won’t necessarily contribute to the financial goals, it’s use to convince a donor to support you will.  How many donor calls are you making this week and how much money are you hoping that these will bring in (they might not bring in any this week but they will – hopefully – take you a step closer to the gift)? How many sponsorship proposals or trust bids will you be working on? What are your priorities in terms of approaching potential donors for money this month and how does that break down on a weekly or daily basis?


3. Are you working to your/your charity’s strengths?

While it’s easy to get bogged down in the detail of fundraising we all need to raise our heads above the day to day to consider whether or not we’re working to our strengths, as this is the best way to ensure that goals are met.

So in terms of your charity, do your fundraising priorities reflect its strengths? Are you asking for funding for programmes that you have experience of delivering/are within your niche area/only you can deliver due to your expertise? And if not, is there a clear rationale for developing this new field of work, such as increasing your capacity through earned income or adapting to changes in the current environment that you work in. (Tip: if there isn’t a clear rationale for developing a new area, why would a donor support this project?)

On a personal level, do you have the skills needed to deliver your fundraising goals or could you do with additional training? Or is there someone else in the charity who has the right skills for say, prospect research, proposal writing or sponsorship negotiation that would allow your charity to become more focused and efficient at fundraising?


Getting – and staying – focused is the key to successful fundraising.

Let’s face it, focus is the key to successful anything – from planning your holiday to getting tasks finished (as I constantly tell my children when it comes to homework!).

It’s not always easy, particularly when you work in a small charity but by asking yourself these three key questions, you can stay on track.

If you’d like more help with planning, sign up for my Fundraising Toolkit (if you haven’t already) and get your free planner.

I’ve also recently discovered a fantastic (and free!) online project management tool called Trello, which is a great tool to help you to organise your workload tasks. Not only that but you can then assign various aspects of a project to other team members and share them, as appropriate. I use it for all of my planning to help me stay on track.



If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.

Yogi Berra


Some simple tools and a bit of objectivity can help your approach go from scatter gun to focused – and from flying by the seat of your pants to successful fundraising!

I’d love to hear what you do to help you stay focused in the face of multiple tasks and priorities, so please share your comments in the box below!

Comments are closed.