Gaining Fundraising Support

One of the most frustrating problems in the fundraising world is when you don’t have internal support. It is next to impossible to get anything done if the Executive Director or President does not support the work that you do. But it can be incredibly frustrating and difficult if the program staff or in some cases faculty or doctors don’t support the fundraising process.
Here are a few things that I have done to gain the support of organizations that I’ve worked for. Recognize the work of the program staff (this works well with faculty).

  • Make sure to say good things about them out in the community, if people talk about how great they are because of you it can make a big difference.
  • Show everyone that you are doing work. I’m not talking about charts and graphs I’m talking about bringing donors on tours, holding an event on-site, or involving them in a cultivation or solicitation meeting. If people see that you are good at what you do and that you are working hard for them it makes a big difference.
  • On donor tours I like to have the donor meet program staff. This allows program staff to speak directly into their programs and experience (which donors really like). It also allows you to recognize the program staff by acknowledging they play a key part in the organization to the donor.
  • In the nonprofit world more than the business world leadership must come from the bottom (I will talk about this more in my next post). This means that you need to spend time talking to people in the staff room, take your co-workers out to coffee, make sure you are there for and remember important events.

I’d love to hear from you any stories good or bad about staff supporting the fundraising function. What have you done to help people see how important fundraising is?


4 Responses to Gaining Fundraising Support

  1. Suzy says:


    I think the key is really in showing value. If I can demonstrate to the program team that I am helping them achieve their work rather than adding something to their to do list, it makes all the difference in the world. This isn’t even that complicated; help them tell their stories by providing tools or worksheets, keep them on task by asking for items in a timely fashion, etc. Showing them how you make their life easier, showing them respect seems to repay in kind.

    Oh, the whole coffee thing, talking them up thing is also great. Nothing like a little good will when your under a tight deadline!

  2. Janice Chan says:

    At my organization (which admittedly has less than 20 employees) both “development” and “program” staff work at each others’ events. Well, non-management staff anyhow. This wouldn’t necessarily work as well with a large organization, but it definitely helps us a lot. We know that we can count on each other when we have a big event or project or camp to run, and we see exactly how hard everybody else is working, too. Yes, we do different work most of the time, but we work together often enough that it’s not seen as an exchange of favors as much as just getting things done. Which I love.

  3. Patrick Sallee says:

    Great post! I started in my current position about 8 months ago and being the first person, outside of special events, focused on fundraising at this agency it has been interesting to try to incorporate the new perspective on the culture. Definitely took everyone to coffee or lunch and tried to explain where I am coming from with background and showed genuine interest in what a day in the life of the program staff is like.

    I initially tried to find a few small things that would immediately impact their jobs. For example, we asked a company to provide GPS devices for our case managers that are out and about. It was an easy ask, but immediately helped….and saved paper from all the mapquest printing. The other important thing for me has been to involve them in approaches to people they are connected with and then, probably more importantly, recognize them publically for their part.

  4. […] Jason Dick at A Small Change talks about what happens when you don’t have leadership and support for fundraising, and offers some tips on how to build it. […]

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