What Is Strategic Fundraising?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2019
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Strategic fundraising makes use of clear objectives and planning to solicit funds for an organization’s operations. It involves the creation of a coherent and organized strategy to raise money, rather than relying on periodic, isolated campaigns. It may be possible to achieve better results with this technique, and it can help organizations create lasting connections with donors. These may lead to more donations in the future, as well as a strong reputation in communities associated with philanthropy that could entice additional donors to contribute.

Companies start strategic fundraising by identifying very clear goals, which allow them to create metrics to use to measure progress. Rather than soliciting money for a specific cause or event like building a new structure or funding a program, the company thinks about long term needs and what it wants to accomplish. An organization might want to double the number of members over five years, for example, or increase the endowment to a set amount within 10 years.


Setting goals can incorporate a number of factors. The organization may think about operating expenses and other costs it needs to meet, taking inflation into account. Board members may also consider what they want to do in the long term. An orchestra, for example, needs to pay members and handle other administrative costs, but it also might want to fund music education in the schools or provide free concerts for members of the public. Goal setting can also include an honest discussion about how much philanthropy a community can realistically support.

Clear goals help organizations set up a strategic fundraising plan. This can include donor cultivation and the development of a strong public relations program with people who donate or are interested in donating. The organization might create a series of campaigns to raise awareness, collect funds, and show the community what it is doing with the donations it receives. Mailings, telephone campaigns, and other outreach may be tailored to specific donors and communities, rather than being sent out in a blanket wave of communications that appeals to some donors and not others.

Consultants may help with the creation of a strategic fundraising program or an organization might hire a specialist to work full time in the donor relations department. Advanced degrees in business and related subjects can be helpful, as can specific experience in nonprofit work and fundraising activities. Some organizations may perform case studies on similar groups to look at their strategic fundraising and identify techniques that worked for them.



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