8 habits of successful fundraisers

Starting to think about a new years’ resolution? We’ve got you covered. Este Darin-Cooper shares some habits of successful fundraisers.

8 habits of successful fundraisers

A fundraising strategy that is long-sighted and supported by key messaging is essential to attracting support from the private sector. But once you’ve got those things covered, it’s easy to overlook the basics in implementation.

So here are a few simple and practical things you can start doing right now to make your fundraising more successful.

Whole of organisation fundraising

  • Do: Set internal expectations about time frames. Major gifts and bequests require resourcing over a number of years. But at 33:1 and 54:1 respectively, they have a high return on investment (annual giving is at 13:1, and events at just 3:1). This is a long-term game. There are rarely quick wins. So generate internal buy-in by making the case, setting realistic short, medium and long-term goals and continually reporting progress.
  • Do: Equip your board and everyone in your organisation to help you. Do they know your fundraising plan and goals? Do they know your key messages? Have you asked if they can offer leads or prospects? Help them help you! Find out more on how to use your board strategically.

Major gifts

  • Do: Plan your meetings, always. What outcomes are you seeking? What information are you seeking to uncover? What questions will you ask? Write it down. Then rehearse it. Then debrief after.
  • Do: Once you are ready to make an ask, ask for a specific dollar amount in the meeting. And then wait for an answer. Even if there is silence, wait. Don’t speak next, wait. In the meantime, read our advice on how to establish a major gift program.


  • Do: Talk to your prospects about gifts in wills. Don’t talk about bequests. Help them see it as a natural progression of a lifetime of giving, not a complex legal prospect.
  • Do: Create opportunities for people to fund long-term projects or initiatives. People want to leave a legacy with a bequest, not just enable next year’s program. Read our guide to learn more about bequest programs.

Corporate sponsorship

  • Do: Know your facts and figures about your audience and footprint. How many people, how often, across what channels, with what profile?
  • Do: Find ways to help the corporate organisation achieve its mission. This isn’t about selling the project. Some of my favourite examples that I heard? We want to help you launch [product] in the [location; segment] marketWe want to help you build your brand message/story with [demographic] in [location] – be our [innovation/sustainability/xxx] partner] Looking for more? Read how to seek corporate sponsorship.