13 Essential Ingredients for Fundraising: A Checklist

13 Essential Ingredients for Fundraising: A Checklist

 It’s tempting to chase new fads or fancy tools. Most nonprofits will do well by sticking to the fundamentals. Check out this checklist and download a PDF of it below.

1.     Have a strong and well-defined mission statement. The mission should be broad enough to appeal to a reasonable array of funders but narrow enough to make you strategic.

2.     Do you have tax-exempt status? This will help dramatically, but it is not essential. It is critical though if you want government, foundation, or corporate money.

3.     Identify your case for support. Be able to articulate it. Ideally, turn it into a written case statement.

4.     Be able to connect your mission, your vision statement, your case for support, and your annual goals and speak about them clearly.

5.     Get alignment across the organization on everything from step 4.

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6.     Research or validation that interest in your work is as strong as you think it will be. Knowledge of what other service providers are doing in the area(s) you want to work. A rationale for why you need a separate organization instead of joining forces with an existing organization.

7.     A bank account and some way of receiving money online. This can be through a website, Facebook, a PayPal account, or some simple mechanism. You should be able to link this function to your organization’s bank account.

8.     A list of people to solicit. If you don’t have a list don’t fret. You can build a list. If you don’t want to build a list of individuals, you will still need a list of foundations, companies, or government offices who provide funding.

9.     A system for tracking contributions (date, amount, method, name of donor, etc.). Essentially, you need two systems to have integrity: fundraising software that tracks all the money coming in, and bookkeeping software for compliance.

10.  A way of acknowledging the gift. This is the law in most places. Donors should be thanked with a letter or receipt. See what your state requires.

11.  A development plan so that all your fundraising is delegated and not all in the same month.

12.  A “give or get” policy requiring fundraising. This should then be baked into a board agreement.

13.  To help your board fundraise, consider using our board fundraising worksheet.


These are just bare bones essential ingredients. Everything else is for convenience, scale, speed, efficiency, handling complexity, etc. But 90% of all organizations could get by on these basic elements. Grab the PDF.

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