How to Start a Fundraiser: This is Your Guide to Raise Money

Published on December 14, 2023

Fundraisers are an inherent part of a nonprofit or political campaign. However, the basic question of “How to start a fundraiser” still bothers new organizers.

This blog will walk you through the fundamental steps on how to start a fundraiser, and we hope that it helps you streamline your initiative.

Key Takeaways

  • Set SMART goals and choose the right type of fundraiser to engage potential donors and maximize fundraising efforts.
  • Create a comprehensive plan with budget, timeline, goals & target audience for your campaign.
  • Promote your fundraiser using various marketing channels & evaluate success to ensure future campaigns are successful.

Set SMART goals

SMART fundraising goals are

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-bound.

Your fundraising goals should look something like “Raise $500,000 by the end of Q4 2023” or “Distribute 2000 meal packets to families in Nashville in January 2024”. For a fundraiser, goals can be:

  • A specific amount of money
  • A specific number and description of groups, organizations, or individuals you hope to impact
  • A specific percent or amount of comparison to previous fundraisers
  • The number of donors you hope to acquire, engage, or elevate.

But how do you set such inspiring goals?

Start by examining your nonprofit’s past, present, and future, and analyze your fundraising and financial data from the past several years. This will help you understand your organization’s needs and resources, allowing you to set ambitious yet achievable goals that resonate with both new and existing donors.

Keep in mind that a substantial fundraising strategy depends on setting objectives and executing them effectively to impact the world meaningfully.

Choose the right type of fundraiser

Once you’ve set your SMART goals, it’s time to explore various fundraising methods to find the best approach for your organization. From text to give to crowdfunding and even virtual events, there’s a wealth of exciting opportunities to engage potential donors and raise funds for your cause.

We will examine these various fundraiser types to assist you in selecting the most suitable one for your campaign.

Direct mail

Direct mail fundraising remains an effective and successful source of revenue for nonprofits. It involves crafting personalized messages and targeting the right audience to solicit donations through traditional mail campaigns. To ensure the success of your direct mail campaign, focus on the following:

  • Attention-grabbing visuals and writing
  • Captivating storytelling
  • Research and exploration
  • Clear strategies and parameters
  • Recognizing donors’ contributions

Remember, direct mail fundraising campaigns typically yield a response rate of up to 5.3% [Vs. paid search at 0.6%, online display marketing at 0.2%, and email at 0.1].

Peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a powerful strategy that allows individuals to collect donations on behalf of an organization. With its numerous advantages, like:

  • Reinforcing existing relationships
  • Bringing in new donors
  • Enhancing social media presence
  • Amplifying brand recognition

It’s a great way to make a difference. However, it’s important to educate existing donors and fundraisers about the campaign and its goals.

To initiate a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, follow these steps:

  1. Disseminate your organization’s narrative in a captivating manner to acquire a fervent following.
  2. Motivate individual supporters to formulate personalized campaigns and gather donations from their acquaintances and relatives.
  3. Leverage social media to strategically share compelling stories, include donation links, highlight milestones, and recognize supporters.

Fundraising letter


A well-crafted fundraising letter can engage potential donors and share your organization’s mission and goals in a compelling way. To write an effective fundraising letter, remember:

  1. A fundraising letter typically goes out to major donors or corporations, foundations, and other nonprofit groups.
  2. They are best used when you have a specific cause to solicit for with a strong story.
  3. Fundraising letters should be concise.
  4. They should allow for easy methods to give [typically but not restricted to in-kind donations]

Address the recipient personally, avoiding impersonal salutations like “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear Prospective Donor,” and write the letter as if you are speaking directly to an individual. Adopting a more personal and emotional tone can foster a profound connection with prospective donors and motivate them to support your cause.

Read Next: The Trick to Crafting a Compelling Fundraising Letter (With Real Examples!)

Virtual fundraising

Virtual fundraising offers a range of exciting opportunities to reach a wider audience and engage with supporters from anywhere in the world. Here are some key strategies to ensure the success of your virtual fundraising efforts:

  1. Establish a robust digital presence.
  2. Comprehend your target audience’s desires and needs.
  3. Employ online fundraising software.
  4. Design, generate and advertise online donation forms.

By implementing these strategies, you can maximize your virtual fundraising potential.

Text to give


Text-to-give fundraising is an incredibly convenient, accessible, and fast way for donors to give to nonprofits or causes. All they need to do is send a text message with a specific keyword to a designated number, and they will receive an automated response confirming their donation. This is an easy and engaging way to make a difference.

The benefits of text-to-give fundraising include:

  • Offering donors convenience
  • Allowing you to engage a larger audience
  • Helping you maximize your fundraising strategy
  • Helping you collect donor information for future nurturing.

Incorporating text-to-give into your fundraising campaign can result in a seamless donation process that aligns with the rapid, mobile-centric world of today.

Every cause is worthy of a great story. Tell yours with CallHub.

Telephone fundraising

Telephone fundraising involves reaching out to potential donors and asking for their support or contributions over the phone. This can be an effective way to build relationships with potential donors and share your organization’s story. To ensure the success of your telephone fundraising campaign, it’s important to have great communication skills, build rapport with donors, and address any objections or concerns they may have.

The advantages of telephone fundraising for charities include:

  • Gaining new donors
  • Strengthening existing relationships
  • Raising visibility
  • Quickly and easily raising funds
  • Customizing the process

Investing in a proficiently carried out telephone fundraising campaign can establish personal connections with prospective donors and significantly influence your fundraising efforts.

Read Next: A Quick Guide to Kickstart Telephone Fundraising.


Crowdfunding is an exciting way to raise funds from a large number of people, often through social media sharing. To create a successful crowdfunding campaign, you need to:

  1. Evaluate if crowdfunding is the right way to go for your project
  2. Set a budget for your campaign
  3. Select a crowdfunding platform that fits your goals
  4. Create a prototype or an enticing pitch to present your project
  5. Set a realistic fundraising goal
  6. Tell your story and explain why you need the funds

Fundraising events

Fundraising events, also known as fundraising activities, are a great way to engage supporters and raise funds for your cause, whether they’re in-person or virtual events.

Organizing captivating fundraising events allows you to:

  • Interact with supporters personally
  • Disseminate your organization’s narrative and mission
  • Generate a memorable experience for all attendees
  • Benefit from the power of community engagement and social sharing to reach even more potential donors and make a lasting impact on your cause.

Create a fundraising plan

With your SMART goals and fundraising methods in place, it’s time to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan that includes a budget, timeline, goals, target audience, and team roles to ensure a successful campaign. Careful planning and execution of your campaign will equip you better to interact with donors, raise funds, and significantly influence your cause.

We will now examine each component of a successful fundraising plan, including fundraising progress, in more detail.


Creating a budget for a fundraising event involves the following steps:

  1. Assess your current situation.
  2. Define your fundraising goals.
  3. Develop your fundraising strategies.
  4. Create your fundraising budget.
  5. Consider all expenses and potential revenue sources to set a realistic budget.
  6. Prepare a budget analysis to track your expenses and revenue.
  7. Regularly review and update your budget throughout the planning process, as needed, to guarantee success.


Setting a clear timeline for your fundraising campaign is crucial for creating a sense of urgency and motivating donors. By establishing start and end dates for your campaign, you can strategically plan out your campaign, track progress, and inspire donors to contribute. Keep in mind that the length of your fundraising campaign can be adjusted depending on various factors, such as your goals, target audience, and fundraising strategy.

Incorporating a clear timeline into your fundraising plan will equip you better to interact with donors and achieve your fundraising goals.

Target audience

Identifying the ideal donor profile for your campaign is crucial for engaging potential donors and ensuring your messaging resonates with them. To identify the target audience for a fundraising campaign, take a closer look at your current donors, analyze who they are and what drives them to give, and leverage data from past donors to identify potential target audiences.

After identifying your target audience, customize your fundraising message to appeal to them. Show them that you understand their needs and concerns, and craft messages that speak to their interests, capacity, and affinity. By understanding your target audience and tailoring your messaging accordingly, you can increase the effectiveness of your fundraising campaign and build stronger connections with your supporters.

Your fundraising team and leaders

Assembling a dedicated team of staff and volunteers to lead and execute your fundraising campaign is crucial for success. Your fundraising team should possess the following qualities:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Boundless energy and motivation
  • Resilience and perseverance
  • A hardworking attitude
  • Sharp listening skills
  • A knack for storytelling
  • A data-driven mindset
  • Strong organizational skills
  • The ability to adapt

Regular supervision, coaching, and mentoring can foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and accountability within your fundraising team. Additionally, offering training sessions that cover various fundraising techniques and strategies, as well as providing access to online training courses and resources, will help ensure your fundraising team is successful.

Read Next: Writing the Perfect Nonprofit Fundraising Plan – In 10 Easy Steps.

Make donation-giving easy


In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to simplify the donation process and make it easy for donors to contribute to your cause. To make the donation process easier, consider:

  • Branding and mobile-optimizing the donation page
  • Offering flexible payment options like PayPal, ACH, or digital wallets
  • Adding recurring giving and pledges

Simplifying the donation process and offering a user-friendly donation form can stimulate more contributions and enhance your fundraising efforts.

Choose a fundraising platform

Selecting a reliable and effective fundraising platform is critical for the success of your campaign. When choosing a platform, look for features such as donor management, reporting, and integrations with other tools and systems that your organization uses.

Some top-rated fundraising platforms to consider for managing major donors include:

You May Also Like: Top 17 Online Donation Tools for Nonprofits (Latest Update)

Plan for fundraiser marketing

Developing a marketing strategy to promote your fundraiser is essential for raising awareness of your campaign and engaging potential donors. Your nonprofit marketing plan should include email campaigns, social media promotion, and public relations efforts to reach your target audience and inspire them to support your cause.

Promoting your fundraiser through various marketing channels can elevate awareness, direct traffic to your donation page, and, eventually, amplify the number of contributions to your fundraising effort. Remember, a successful fundraising campaign requires strategic marketing efforts to reach and engage potential donors.

Evaluate the success of your fundraiser

Once your fundraising campaign is complete, it’s essential to analyze the results to determine its effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and inform future strategies.

To evaluate your fundraising strategy, select a core set of metrics that you’ll measure for the long-term success of your organization. This may include:

  • The total amount raised
  • The number of new donors
  • Donor retention rate
  • Cost per dollar raised
  • Return on investment


In conclusion, setting SMART goals, choosing the right fundraising methods, creating a comprehensive plan, simplifying the donation process, and promoting your fundraiser through various marketing channels are all essential components of a successful fundraising campaign. By following these steps and continually evaluating your campaign’s success, you can make data-driven decisions, improve your fundraising efforts, and ultimately, make a lasting impact on your cause. We hope we have answered your question to “How to start a fundraiser”.

Now, it’s time to put these strategies into action and start making a difference in the world!

Feature image source: RDNE Stock project/Pexels.