Fundraising Guide for Beginners

When you’re just getting started, fundraising can seem daunting. Even intimidating.

But it doesn’t have to be.

When you know how to share the right message with the right people at the right time, fundraising can be simple. Easy. Even predictable. (Seriously, it really can!)

The more you learn and build your skill, the better you get and the more money you can raise. More money means changing more lives (and that’s what we’re here for, right?).

So, to get you started, here’s our “Fundraising Guide for Beginners”.

Understand the Basics…

How to raise funds for a new nonprofit. There are some basics you need to understand so you go into fundraising with realistic expectations. And, you need to know what donor-based fundraising is, how it works, and why you need to use it.

Understand WHY people give. There are many different motivations for donating, and your donors’ reasons may not be YOUR reasons. The more you understand, the easier it is to inspire someone to give because you can speak their language.

Making a Great Ask…

What to say to get a donation. The words you use are SUPER important in inspiring people to give.

Writing for fundraising. Connecting through the written word is one of a fundraiser’s most valuable skills.

Fight your fear of asking for money. It can be HARD to ask for donations. Here’s a way to go from squeamish to successful so you can raise more money.

Core Number. Being able to tell donors what their money will do is KEY. Even if you’re not a numbers person, you need to know this one because it makes fundraising easier.

Finding Donors…

Nail your elevator speech. What you say about your nonprofit makes or breaks a first impression when you meet people. Use this 3-step formula to get it right from the get-go.

Big loyal donor base. The more donors you have, the more donations you can get. Building a donor base takes time and effort, but soooooo worth it when you have hundreds of supporters asking how they can help.

Focus on Relationships…

Four stages of donor relationships. When people feel like they’re part of your team, they stick around and they give bigger gifts. Building donor relationships is the smartest thing you can do to get donors on your team.


Strategic planning for beginners. Without a strategic plan, your nonprofit has no direction. Take the time to at least rough out what you want to accomplish in the next couple of years because donors will want to know.

Write an annual fundraising plan. If you have no plan, you won’t get very far. Seriously, making it up as you go and chasing every idea won’t fully fund your budget. You must be purposeful about where to spend your precious time and energy.

Annual Fundraising…       

Choose the right fundraising event. Events can be a great way to raise money, raise awareness, deepen relationships, and more. So, which event is right for YOU?

Write the perfect fundraising letter. Fundraising letters or appeals can be a great way to ask many people at once for a donation. But you can’t write just any old letter. Follow the formula for a compelling letter people will respond to.

Start a monthly giving program. Monthly givers are not only your most loyal donors, but their donations create predictable revenue for your growing nonprofit. Here’s how you get started with monthly giving.

Keys to getting your first grant. Learning how to give a funder what they’re looking for in a grant application is both art and science. Here are 6 things you need to understand as you write your first grant.

Find major donors. The 80/20 Rule applies to fundraising – 80% of your donations will come from 20% of your donors. Focus on finding and keeping more major donors to make fundraising easier.

Thanking and Stewarding Donors…     

Perfect thank-you letter. Getting a donation isn’t the end of the process – it’s the beginning. Thanking donors well not only makes the donor feel good but sets up the next donation.

Donor newsletter. A good email newsletter is your BEST tool for communicating with donors and prospects. Most nonprofits do such a bad job that you can easily make your newsletter their favorite.


Avoid the Myth of the Shoestring Budget. Nonprofit is a tax status, not a business model. Just because you’re trying to do good doesn’t mean you need to scrimp to survive.

Your nonprofit’s first budget. Numbers are important! And having a budget helps you know how much you need to raise, what things cost, and how a donor’s gift will make a difference.


Build your first Board. Your Board should help you plan and grow your fledgling nonprofit. Building your first Board can be a trick to get the RIGHT people in the right seats.

Manage your first Board. Getting good people on your Board is one thing. Getting them involved is another. Here’s some advice for getting your Board engaged and in partnership with you.

Being Productive…

Fundraising systems. Systems are KEY to running your nonprofit smoothly. Here are 10 systems you need to get in place ASAP.

Leadership skills. If you’re the founder or director, congrats! You’re the leader! And here are 9 critical skills you need to get good at, right now.

Working from home. If you’re running your nonprofit from your home, here are some secrets to being productive and establishing healthy work/life boundaries when working from home.

Starting a Nonprofit…

Before you start a nonprofit. If you’re still kicking around the idea of starting a nonprofit, read this first so you know what you’re getting into.

Cover your startup costs. Trying to figure out how to pay for things before you get your nonprofit off the ground? Try these ideas.

Enjoy these resources and put into practice what you learn.

If you need more help, reach out to us. We’re here to help you on your fundraising journey!